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Bury taxi drivers claim they are being put out of work for unfairly failing tests

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk ... g-16393437

Hackney and private hire cabbies say their complaints are being ignored by the council

Image

Image: Manchester Evening News

Discontent is “bubbling” among taxi drivers in Bury, according to a trade representative.

Charles Oakes, chairman of the Hackney Drivers’ Association, was joined by four private hire drivers who slated staff at the town hall last night.

They claimed that vehicles are unfairly failing tests for cosmetic issues such as scratches which is putting drivers out of work.

Further frustrations were expressed about the need for drivers to travel outside of the borough to be tested.

Mr Oakes told councillors on the licensing and safety panel drivers’ complaints are being ignored.

He said: “There is a backlog of complaints that have not been answered. What’s going on? Because members who are aggrieved in whatever way have a right to be heard.”

Angela Lomax, head of trading standards and licensing, said that many complaints were getting lost because they were not sent to the right people.

She said: “The problem we have got, Mr Oakes, is the various pathways you are sending your complaints. We won’t deliberately ignore you. Unfortunately, we don’t have the staffing level to be sat at the desk and answer phone calls.”

However, Shaf Mahmood, a Bury Private Hire Drivers’ Association representative, said the department was “deliberately” not answering complaints.

Vehicle failed MOT for having tinted windows

He told the panel about an incident on Tuesday in which a vehicle failed its MOT for having tinted windows despite passing the previous year.

Licensing unit manager Michael Bridges said he had already seen a complaint about this incident and would respond in due course.

But the disgruntled drivers told the Bury Times that testers examine vehicles with a “fine-tooth comb” and fail them “for anything”, resulting in additional charges.

Mohammad Sajad, secretary of Bury Private Hire Drivers’ Association told the panel that having one licensed MOT station in the borough is not enough given the rising number of taxi drivers.

A fire at Bradley Fold station earlier this year means that vehicle testing has been relocated to Bolton for the time being.

Mrs Lomax praised the “marvellous” staff for being up and running within 48 hours at the station which is four miles away.

A total of 50 vehicles are tested every week by the Bradley Fold staff who have to deal with 1,000 drivers throughout the year.

Mr Bridges also claimed that drivers often fail to give the station enough notice before turning up for tests.

He said: “Drivers come in two days before their licence expires. It’s never their fault, it’s always the council’s fault.”

Drivers can't afford extra fees

Mr Oakes said that there is “discontent bubbling” throughout the hackney and private hire trade.

He raised concerns about the proposals which could result in taxi drivers who use certain vehicles paying a daily fee for travelling on highly-polluted roads.

New industry standards are also on the horizon affecting all drivers across the region.

He said: “Drivers can’t afford all these things and every bit of money that goes into this. I’ve been complaining about the refusal of the council to allow the trade a second testing station in Bury. The fire at Bradley Fold clearly shows there’s a need for another testing station. Drivers are not going to be happy having to go to Bolton to get their vehicles tested.”

A public consultation on the common minimum standards for taxis and private hire vehicles in Greater Manchester and the Clean Air Plan is expected to take place later this year.

OCTOBER   2019

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Taxi driver sentenced after killing devoted dad in Hull city centre crash

https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hu ... sh-3428041

Muhammed Ali admitted causing death by careless driving after the death of Ray Carter

A taxi driver who could not avoid a fatal collision with a pensioner on a pedestrian crossing has been ordered to do unpaid work for the community.

Muhammad Ali, 61, hit former merchant seaman Ray Carter, 79, in Ferensway, city centre, at 5.40pm on August 27, 2017.

The automated crossing was displaying a green light for traffic and red for pedestrians when Mr Carter stepped out on the southbound carriageway on his way home from drinking with friends, Hull Crown Court heard.

He was enjoying his first weekend out in a year since undergoing heart surgery, and had been given "a clean bill of health" by the hospital, his daughter said in a statement on behalf of the family.

A witness said moments before the impact, Ali, who was driving a blue Peugeot taxi, was "looking towards the taxi rank to see how many people were there", prosecutor Claire Holmes told the court.

But although Ali was slightly speeding, the accident would have been "unavoidable" even if he was travelling at the 30mph speed limit, the court heard.

Mr Carter suffered "extensive trauma" and died at Hull Royal Infirmary the next day.

Ali, who was due to stand trial on Monday, admitted causing death by careless driving after being given an indication of his likely sentence by Judge Paul Watson QC, Honorary Recorder of Hull and the East Riding.

Family's tribute

In a statement, Mr Carter's daughter described the father-of-four as "the anchor that held us together".

She said: "We miss him and love him every day. His life was just getting back on track after having open heart surgery.

"It was the first weekend he'd gone out to see his friends for a year. The pain and sorrow of his loss is still felt every day."

She said her father would "never get to see his great-granddaughter grow up, nor his grandchild. As a family we are absolutely heartbroken".

Mr Carter had taken four steps and had almost reached the centre of the crossing when he was hit, the court heard.

Ali, of Westbourne Avenue, west Hull, was twice interviewed about the collision. In the first, he said: "I saw the guy walk as though he was going to step out. He did step out. I braked hard and hit the man."

Miss Holmes said he went on to say "the guy had run off the pavement", but this was "not consistent" with witness reports, and one had seen Mr Carter "stagger slightly" before entering the road.

Ali made no comment in a second interview at Clough Road police station.

Hull-born Mr Carter had a twin brother and older brother and spent most of his life in the city, his daughter said.

'He saw the world'

He left school aged 15 and later joined the Merchant Navy, which his daughter described as "a job he loved, which took him to all parts of the world". He then left and joined the Army, during which time he met his future wife, getting married when he was 22.

The family home was in Moorhouse Road, west Hull, although they later moved to the Garths area of Bransholme when it was first built.

Mr Carter's wife died in 2004, eight years after being diagnosed with cancer.

Mr Carter later worked as a steward for North Sea Ferries and then on oil rigs, latterly for BP at Saltend.

He had gone to meet friends returning from a rugby final at Wembley on the day of the accident, his daughter said.

'Driver is remorseful'

Mark Brookes, for Ali, said the most important piece of mitigation was the remorse his client felt. He said as a father and grandfather, Ali had "empathy" for Mr Carter's family. Ali had suffered flashbacks since the accident and was being treated for anxiety and depression, Mr Brookes said.

Ali's chances of ever working as a taxi driver again were virtually "extinct", his barrister said.

Sentencing Ali, the judge told him: "It was a tragic accident which led to his death. But it is one for which you bear at least partial blame.

"No order I make today can compensate for the loss of a man who still had a good life ahead of him. A father and a brother, and nothing I do or say can lessen the impact of their loss. The criminal law is quite unequipped to do that."

Ali was ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order. He was banned from driving for 18 months and must take an extended test before he can drive again. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 towards the prosecution costs of the case.

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15/10/2019

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Private hire driver convicted of sexual assault

http://news.met.police.uk/news/private- ... ult-384637

Image: Metropolitan Police

A private hire vehicle driver who sexually assaulted a female passenger when she was in an extremely vulnerable condition has been convicted after an investigation by the Met’s Taxi and Private Hire Policing Team.

Temur Shah, 45, (06.02.74) of Park Crescent, Harrow, was found guilty at Isleworth Crown Court on Monday, 14 October after a one-week trial. He has been bailed ahead of sentencing at the same court on 12 November.

The conviction follows a successful investigation by the Met's Taxi and Private Hire Policing Team - part of the Roads and Transport Policing Command which is part-funded by Transport for London.

Shah, who worked for Uber, committed his offence in the early hours of 15 January, 2018. He picked up a 27-year-old woman, who was feeling unwell, from an address in the West End.

During the journey, Shah stopped the vehicle and insisted she sat in the front. After driving for a bit longer, the passenger said she was going to be sick. Shah stopped the cab and leaned over her to open the front passenger door. While doing this he sexually touched her. He continued to sexually assault her even as she leant out of the vehicle being sick.

The passenger stayed in the minicab after the assault as she had no battery left on her phone and could not call for assistance. She also did not have any money. She also told Shah not to touch her again.

Afterwards, Shah dropped the passenger off near her home in north London and the matter was reported to the police. The Taxi and Private Hire Policing Team then carried out a thorough investigation, conducting enquiries with Uber and the person who booked the private hire vehicle on the victim’s behalf. They also collected an extensive amount of CCTV and viewed GPS data from Uber.

Evidence pointed towards Shah as the driver - he was arrested for sexual assault on 2 February 2018 and was released under investigation.

He was charged with sexual assault on 19 January 2019 and convicted as above.

Detective Superintendent Andy Cox, from the Roads and Transport Policing Command, said: “Shah despicably took advantage of his position as a trusted licensed driver and sexually assaulted a passenger in a vulnerable state. His conviction was down to a meticulous investigation which left the jury in no doubt as to his guilt.

“If you ever experience unwanted sexual behaviour, report it to the police. You will always be taken seriously and the incident will be fully investigated.”

Mandy McGregor, Head of Transport Policing and Community Safety at TfL, said: “This attack on a vulnerable passenger was predatory and disgusting, and we are pleased to see that Shah has been convicted. I would like to thank the young woman for coming forward and reporting this so TfL and the police could investigate and take action against the driver. We expect the highest standards from TfL licensed taxi and private hire drivers. Not only has Shah been convicted but immediate licensing action was taken to prevent him from continuing in his role as a TfL licensed private hire driver.”

For information about Taxi and Private Hire journey-related sexual offences, please visit:

https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/safety-and ... l-offences.

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Advice for when using minicabs:

- A minicab will have a licence displayed in the window (and the driver must be wearing a photo ID card) and it needs to be booked in advance with a licensed minicab firm.

- It is a requirement that all private hire operators have to give a booking confirmation – which could be by text message, app, email or if you’re in a minicab office, paper receipt. The booking confirmation includes details of the licensed private hire driver and vehicle that has been booked for you. Check before you get in. If the driver or car picking you up aren’t the same as in your booking confirmation, don’t get in the car – it isn’t safe.

- You should never take a minicab offered by a bouncer or someone in a high visibility jacket with a clipboard outside a venue.

- A person that approaches you directly on the street asking if you want a minicab is acting illegally.

- If you approach what you believe to be a minicab directly, this is also illegal and only the driver knows where you're going, which isn't safe.

- If any of the above takes place your minicab isn't booked and therefore it is illegal and not safe.

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15/10/2019

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Well this seems to overegg things a bit - 'scrapping' ageing vehicles seems to be simply an age rule for replacements, and presumably there are 'mandatory' criminal record checks already? Presumably they're just proposing enhanced checks, or whatever :?

Cars over four years old will be refused taxi licenses in North Tyneside emissions crack down

https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/no ... d-17087121

Wannabe taxi drivers could also face enhanced criminal record checks

Would-be taxi drivers could have to scrap ageing vehicles and face up to mandatory criminal record checks if a proposed licensing shake-up is given the green-light.

North Tyneside Council will launch a public consultation at the end of the month over proposed changes to the way the borough’s taxis and private hire cars are licensed.

Cabinet members agreed on Monday to seek the views of local drivers, residents, and businesses on a revised policy which aims to ensure the safety and welfare of the public, encourage environmental sustainability, and ensure efficient taxi and private hire services in the borough.

Under the draft proposals, no new licences would be granted for vehicles more than four years old. Other key amendments would see the introduction of online applications and mandatory criminal checks.

Coun Carl Johnson, who is responsible for environment and transport, said the proposals were would make sure residents got a good service from local firms.

He said: “This is very important when you consider our fleet is very old, this is important to make sure residents get the best possible service from taxis as well as reducing emissions.”

Coun Gary Bell added: “Historically North Tyneside residents use taxis more than other boroughs around the country.”

A range of stakeholders will be asked for their views on the introduction of a new vehicle age requirement, as part of a plan to improve air quality as outlined in the council’s transport strategy.

This comes after the council’s declaration of a climate emergency in July, when councillors pledged to fast-track the authority’s Low Carbon Plan 2016- 2027 to achieve a 50% carbon reduction four years ahead of schedule.

The public will also be asked their views on things like tinted windows, in- car digital advertisements, and changes to the knowledge test.

The authority licenses around 183 taxis, 1030 private hire vehicles and there is 1097 drivers and 23 operators in the borough. The consultation period will start on October 28 and last for eight weeks.

Stakeholders will be able to provide feedback online as well as in writing. The draft policy will then come back to Cabinet on February 24 2020 and, it is anticipated, the revised policy would be implemented on April 1 2020.

The draft policy can be viewed in the ‘decision making’ section of the council’s website.

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15/10/2019

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Uber driver found driving with too many passengers

AN UBER driver who was caught with five passengers in her car when she could only take four has been issued a warning.

Sannah Ali was spotted on West Regent Street picking up all members of the party before driving off.

A complaint was submitted to Glasgow City Council by the taxi driver who witnessed the incident, bringing in enforcement officers.

When Miss Ali attended an interview she claimed that she didn’t see the fifth member of the group get into the back of her private hire car and sit in the footwell.

She said that they must have snuck them in when she wasn’t looking and when she realised there were too many people in the car she panicked and told them to leave her vehicle.

At the licensing committee she said: “There were three women in the back of the car and a man in the front seat. He was quite chatty so I must have got distracted.”

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IDFIMH

15/10/2019

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Uber driver found driving with too many passengers

AN UBER driver who was caught with five passengers in her car when she could only take four has been issued a warning.

Sannah Ali was spotted on West Regent Street picking up all members of the party before driving off.

A complaint was submitted to Glasgow City Council by the taxi driver who witnessed the incident, bringing in enforcement officers.

When Miss Ali attended an interview she claimed that she didn’t see the fifth member of the group get into the back of her private hire car and sit in the footwell.

She said that they must have snuck them in when she wasn’t looking and when she realised there were too many people in the car she panicked and told them to leave her vehicle.

At the licensing committee she said: “There were three women in the back of the car and a man in the front seat. He was quite chatty so I must have got distracted.”

_________________

IDFIMH

15/10/2019

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More taxis could be allowed to operate in Halifax

https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/wes ... d-17080963

The council is conducting a survey costing £15,000 before it makes a decision

A limit on the number of Hackney carriages allowed to operate in Halifax could be lifted.

Calderdale Council has commissioned a survey to examine demand in the town, which it will consider before making a decision.

The law allows the number of Hackney carriages – taxis which are licensed to ply for hire, as opposed to private hire vehicles – to be capped if councillors are sure there is no significant unmet demand.

At the moment numbers are limited to 37 Hackney carriages in the Halifax zone.

The rest of Calderdale is also covered by zones but these do not have limited numbers, with Sowerby Bridge having 45, Brighouse 11, Elland six, Todmorden four, and Hebden Bridge one.

National guidance says policy should be reviewed and justified publicly at least every three years – in Calderdale this was last done in summer 2017.

A survey will cost around £15,000.

Councillors heard how removing the Halifax limit would mean Hackney cabs licensed by the local authority all having a Calderdale plate and being able to ply for hire at any of the ranks in Calderdale.

Coun Geraldine Carter was concerned Hackney cabs from outside the borough would be able to do this but officers said the change would not mean those from Bradford, Leeds or Kirklees could come in and work the streets of Calderdale.

Councillors’ benchmark, under national guidelines, had to be whether or not the travelling public would benefit from the result.

Input from Hackney carriage owners given at the meeting indicated they supported a survey which would likely favour the status quo, which would keep up standards for the travelling public.

Otherwise it would become a system whereby those in all the outside areas would come down into the centre to work.

This would make it very difficult to keep up standards and putting pressure on limited taxi rank spaces.

They would advise keeping the system as it was working very well, they told councillors.

15/10/2019

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Taxi driver robbed at knifepoint by two men in Rochford

https://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/179648 ... -rochford/

A FEMALE taxi driver was robbed at knifepoint during a terrifying broad daylight incident in Rochford.

Essex Police are appealing for information following the robbery, which took place at around 8.45am on Saturday.

Officers were called to The Drive where it was reported two men had threatened a woman whilst she was waiting inside her vehicle.

After threatening the victim, they demanded cash before fleeing the scene with more more than £10.

The men quickly ran off down a nearby alleyway which leads through into St Marks Field.

The first man is described as being white, aged in his mid 20s to early 30s, of a slim build and he had bleached blond or fair hair which was poking out the sides of a hat.

He has been described as being a "little scruffy", unshaven and was wearing a sports tracksuit style jacket which was dark in colour, blue jeans and a dark baseball cap.

The second man has been described as being white, aged in his mid 30s, of a slim to an average build and he had very short fair hair and stubble which was greying.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: "We would like to hear from anyone who noticed the incident or who saw the men running off.

"Please call Southend CID on 101 quoting crime reference 42/162477/19 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

13/10/2019

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Well this perhaps confirms that the cross-border stuff raised by Mayor Anderson last week was a bit of a red herring, since this is about beefing up the Liverpool City Council knowledge.

And maybe last week's story intended to soften up public opinion so that this will be rubber-stamped?

Of course, the downside is that as things stand the new measures will to a degree simply encourage cross-border working.

By the way, seems that same knowledge test applies to both HCs and PHs in Liverpool, although that might be inferred from the article, but it's not actually stated.

Liverpool taxi drivers will need to pass new street 'knowledge' and basic English tests

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... s-17052548

Huge shake up as drivers will be made to pass a new 'street knowledge' test

New measures will see Liverpool taxi drivers made to pass a new 'street knowledge' test - as well as examinations in conversational English and numeracy.

The bold new plan is expected to be signed off at a meeting of the council's licensing committee tomorrow - and comes as the authority ramps up its moves to improve the licensed trade in Liverpool.

Last week, Mayor Joe Anderson said he wanted action after a taxi driver did not know how to get take him the short distance from Edge Lane to his home in Old Swan.

Under the new review of driver training - which has been out for consultation over the summer - there will be new tests in city knowledge, basic English and numeracy, amongst other things.

Street knowledge test

The new proposals for driver training have been recommended by the council's city manager.

The most striking concerns the administering of the 'street knowledge' test taken by drivers.

Currently, the testing is outsourced to a private company - but the council plans to now bring this in house.

If approved, there will be a fee charged to applicants for the street knowledge test.

The fee proposed is £65.00. After two failed tests, a further resit fee of £30.00 will be charged to the applicant. This resit fee will cover another 3 attempts at the test.

The council report states: "The requirement for licensed drivers to pass the Street Knowledge test is a crucial part of ensuring drivers licensed by the City Council have the necessary topographical knowledge and basic skills to work efficiently in the streets of Liverpool.

"To absolutely ensure this Test is delivered, invigilated and marked in a way which is 100% to the satisfaction of the City Council in terms of integrity, it is proposed that the City Council’s officers resume responsibility for the administration of the Test."

Maths and English skills

Another proposal that is expected to be given the green light at tomorrow's licensing meeting concerns a new 'essential skills' test for prospective drivers.

The proposed test will include additional numerical and English tests.

The report states: "There is currently no external process by training providers generically to assess the standard of an applicant’s numeracy and English language prior to the issue of a licence.

"The ability of a driver to properly calculate change to be given to a customer and converse with them on a basic level is as important as having a reasonable degree of knowledge of the City streets, landmarks and neighbourhoods.

"These are all matters which often give rise to complaints from the public."

"It is therefore proposed that, in order to ensure a uniform standard of English and Numeracy skills, during the street knowledge test a basic assessment will be carried out.

"This would include a section involving basic conversational English. The test will seek to ensure a candidate has a fundamental ability to answer simple questions, write receipts and calculate problems around change given to the customer."

Other proposals

As well as the above new testing plans - there are some other areas around driver training that form part of the new measures expected to get the green light tomorrow.

This will include adding new modules to the standard driver training - including those related to customers with wheelchairs, autism and age related issues like Dementia and Alzheimer's.

The new training package will also include a refresher on issues relating to Child Sexual Exploitation - which will be refreshed as part of the licence renewal process.

Joe Anderson

Speaking about the new plans, Mayor Anderson said: "The knowledge test has been privatised before - to get it done more quickly and to save money.

"But we just find that we are getting to a situation where there are a lot of people getting a license without having any understanding of the city.

"I had that incident where the guy couldn't take me to Old Swan from Edge Lane - a good friend of mine got a cab the other day and the driver didn't know how to get her to the Anglican Cathedral.

"If there are visitors coming to the city they can potentially be ripped off or just have a bad experience so we think these new measures are something we need to do."

13/10/2019

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Maybe we should ask Councils to fit Commodes that would solve it 

Probe into reports 'taxi drivers are urinating in bottles and leaving them on roadside' in Selly Oak

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/m ... g-17051643

Locals living around Weoley Park Road, in Selly Oak, have claimed some drivers are leaving human waste behind. An image reportedly shows a plastic bottle full with yellow liquid.

A councillor is investigating allegations that taxi drivers are urinating in plastic bottles and dumping them along a main road.

Locals living around Weoley Park Road, in Selly Oak , claim some drivers are discarding the bottles while they use the road to rest and wait for jobs.

An image was posted on social media on Saturday reportedly showing a plastic bottle full to the brim with dark yellow liquid on the kerbside.

Image

Image: Birmingham Mail

The picture sparked dozens of comments with most branding the act as ‘gross’, ' revolting', ‘disgusting’ or ‘a breach of their licence’ which needed reporting to the council.

Selly Oak and Weoley councillor Tristan Chatfield, who is also Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources , said he would be looking into the allegations and if true, would be raising it with the licensing department.

Others sympathised saying public toilets had been closed but urged ‘if you’ve gotta go you gotta go but put the bottle in the bin.’

While an environmentally-conscious reader said: “Fair do’s everyone has to pee, but at least do it discreetly, take it home, flush it and most importantly reuse the bottle !"

“Plastic waste is the biggest issue nowadays. ”

Another added: “They could at least empty it down a drain instead of leaving it at the side of the road.”

Councillor Chatfield said: “I am disgusted to hear that this has possibly been going on in our area.

“It shows total contempt for the community as a whole.

“If this allegation is true there is absolutely no excuse for the taxi drivers concerned. I will be raising this with the licensing department at the council.

Councillor Chatfield said: “I am disgusted to hear that this has possibly been going on in our area.

“It shows total contempt for the community as a whole.

“If this allegation is true there is absolutely no excuse for the taxi drivers concerned. I will be raising this with the licensing department at the council.

13/10/2019

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Leading councillor won't use Derby yellow cabs because fleet is 'too dangerous'

https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/d ... by-3391608

He says it is a personal decision for himself and his family

Image

Image: Derby Telegraph

Leading Derby councillor Mick Barker has said he is not personally prepared to use the city's yellow cabs "because of the dangerous state of the fleet".

The Derby Area Taxi Association claims "there are only a few" yellow cabs, out of 1,300 in the city, that do not meet safety standards.

And it says private hire taxis registered outside of Derby are "a bigger risk to the public" because they cannot be checked by local council officials.

But figures for the past 12 months reveal that, of the 83 yellow cabs inspected in the city last year, 41 had licences suspended, eight were referred for garage inspection, 28 drivers were given advice and just six were satisfactory.

Mr Barker, cabinet member for governance and licensing, spoke out after the council's licensing committee failed to back a policy to modernise yellow cabs so they would have lower emissions by January 2021.

The council also wanted to limit taxis to a maximum age of 10 years for diesel and 12 for what are known as ZEC ULEV vehicles, which are "ultra-low emission".

Instead, members of the licensing committee voted to introduce cleaner vehicles by 2025 and to make the maximum age of taxis 15 years. Some are already at least 12 years old.

Mr Barker, who is a member of the council's licensing committee, said: "It is the dangerous state of the Hackney fleet, defective upon inspection, that leads me to speak out as an individual in my refusal to use a hackney carriage in Derby - until modernisation of the fleet is accepted by both the owners, drivers and the city's licensing committee.

"This is a personal decision for myself and family obviously, based on the knowledge I have relating to the public results of council and police inspections.

"Too few vehicles are checked each year. This is because is all the vehicles carry two-way radios and it is a well-known fact that when officers and police are undertaking an inspection exercise, seldom are they able to manage more than six inspections as the remainder ‘book off’ duty to avoid being stop-checked.

"One could assume the statistics could therefore be worse if the drivers chose to lose business and avoid an inspection knowing their vehicle could well have a defect."

In an inspection last month, six out of six taxis tested by police and council officers had defects resulting in immediate prohibitions and licence suspensions.

At the licensing committee on August 22, which opposed the suggested change of council policy to modernise the fleet, councillors for the Liberal Democrats, Brexit Party and Labour combined to vote down the proposals.

Richard Antcliff, council director of public protection and Streetpride, wrote to the licensing committee following the meeting.

He said that the consequences of the committee's decision were that what is left of the strategy will not achieve what it set out to do within an appropriate timescale and the resultant age and emissions policy will "ultimately disadvantage drivers in the long-term" and "put public health and safety at risk".

After the licensing committee meeting on August 22, the Conservatives said they were “hugely disappointed with the Labour, Lib Dem and Brexit councillors", who they say “disregarded and opposed our proposals to improve the quality of Derby’s taxi fleet and deliver cleaner vehicles - something that the public fully supported in the consultation that took place in advance”.

But Labour committee member Councillor Nadine Peatfield said the original proposals would have “seriously affected the livelihoods of hundreds of taxi drivers”.

Ian Wigley, chairman of the Derby Area Taxi Association, said Mr Barker and the taxi licensing committee “dictated” a narrow choice of vehicles available to yellow cab drivers, and also “dictated” the fact that they must be licensed in Derby.

He said: “Councillor Barker has a choice of taxis at his disposal.

“It is entirely up to him to decide if he wants to travel in a locally-licensed taxi which is tested by city council approved testing stations, or an out-of-town licensed taxi that is licensed many miles away and checked by testing stations which are not city council approved.”

Some private hire taxis – which are defined as those which must be booked in advance – are registered out of the city but some are registered within Derby City Council boundaries.

Mr Wigley said: “Our vehicles will go for specialised taxi tests bi-annually which is a new rule from August 22 for all vehicles over five years of age, at city council approved and checked testing stations.

“The public can feel safe knowing all licensed taxis in Derby are now vigorously checked to the highest standards twice a year, plus there are regular enforcement exercises conducted by Derby City Council and the police.”

11/10/2019

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Leading councillor won't use Derby yellow cabs because fleet is 'too dangerous'

https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/d ... by-3391608

He says it is a personal decision for himself and his family

Image: Derby Telegraph

Leading Derby councillor Mick Barker has said he is not personally prepared to use the city's yellow cabs "because of the dangerous state of the fleet".

The Derby Area Taxi Association claims "there are only a few" yellow cabs, out of 1,300 in the city, that do not meet safety standards.

And it says private hire taxis registered outside of Derby are "a bigger risk to the public" because they cannot be checked by local council officials.

But figures for the past 12 months reveal that, of the 83 yellow cabs inspected in the city last year, 41 had licences suspended, eight were referred for garage inspection, 28 drivers were given advice and just six were satisfactory.

Mr Barker, cabinet member for governance and licensing, spoke out after the council's licensing committee failed to back a policy to modernise yellow cabs so they would have lower emissions by January 2021.

The council also wanted to limit taxis to a maximum age of 10 years for diesel and 12 for what are known as ZEC ULEV vehicles, which are "ultra-low emission".

Instead, members of the licensing committee voted to introduce cleaner vehicles by 2025 and to make the maximum age of taxis 15 years. Some are already at least 12 years old.

Mr Barker, who is a member of the council's licensing committee, said: "It is the dangerous state of the Hackney fleet, defective upon inspection, that leads me to speak out as an individual in my refusal to use a hackney carriage in Derby - until modernisation of the fleet is accepted by both the owners, drivers and the city's licensing committee.

"This is a personal decision for myself and family obviously, based on the knowledge I have relating to the public results of council and police inspections.

"Too few vehicles are checked each year. This is because is all the vehicles carry two-way radios and it is a well-known fact that when officers and police are undertaking an inspection exercise, seldom are they able to manage more than six inspections as the remainder ‘book off’ duty to avoid being stop-checked.

"One could assume the statistics could therefore be worse if the drivers chose to lose business and avoid an inspection knowing their vehicle could well have a defect."

In an inspection last month, six out of six taxis tested by police and council officers had defects resulting in immediate prohibitions and licence suspensions.

At the licensing committee on August 22, which opposed the suggested change of council policy to modernise the fleet, councillors for the Liberal Democrats, Brexit Party and Labour combined to vote down the proposals.

Richard Antcliff, council director of public protection and Streetpride, wrote to the licensing committee following the meeting.

He said that the consequences of the committee's decision were that what is left of the strategy will not achieve what it set out to do within an appropriate timescale and the resultant age and emissions policy will "ultimately disadvantage drivers in the long-term" and "put public health and safety at risk".

After the licensing committee meeting on August 22, the Conservatives said they were “hugely disappointed with the Labour, Lib Dem and Brexit councillors", who they say “disregarded and opposed our proposals to improve the quality of Derby’s taxi fleet and deliver cleaner vehicles - something that the public fully supported in the consultation that took place in advance”.

But Labour committee member Councillor Nadine Peatfield said the original proposals would have “seriously affected the livelihoods of hundreds of taxi drivers”.

Ian Wigley, chairman of the Derby Area Taxi Association, said Mr Barker and the taxi licensing committee “dictated” a narrow choice of vehicles available to yellow cab drivers, and also “dictated” the fact that they must be licensed in Derby.

He said: “Councillor Barker has a choice of taxis at his disposal.

“It is entirely up to him to decide if he wants to travel in a locally-licensed taxi which is tested by city council approved testing stations, or an out-of-town licensed taxi that is licensed many miles away and checked by testing stations which are not city council approved.”

Some private hire taxis – which are defined as those which must be booked in advance – are registered out of the city but some are registered within Derby City Council boundaries.

Mr Wigley said: “Our vehicles will go for specialised taxi tests bi-annually which is a new rule from August 22 for all vehicles over five years of age, at city council approved and checked testing stations.

“The public can feel safe knowing all licensed taxis in Derby are now vigorously checked to the highest standards twice a year, plus there are regular enforcement exercises conducted by Derby City Council and the police.”

11/10/2019

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Todmorden taxi driver caught plying for trade without a licence fined over £700

https://www.lancs.live/news/lancashire- ... e-16675176

Mohammad Iqbal, 52, had as licence taken away in September 2018 after failing to tell Rossendale Borough Council he had previously been banned from driving

A Todmorden taxi driver has been fined over £700 after being caught plying for trade while his licence was revoked.

Mohammad Iqbal, 52, had as licence taken away in September 2018 after failing to tell Rossendale Borough Council he had previously been banned from driving.

He had left the information off his application form.

Iqbal, 52, of Burnley Road, was caught attempting to ply for hire in his Mercedes E220 - registered as a hackney carriage with the council - on South Street, Bacup.

He admitted acting contrary to the Section 46 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 at Burnley Magistrates’ Court and was fined £266 for the offence and ordered to pay £296.30 in legal costs and £210 investigation costs.

Steve Hughes, member for Communities and Customers at Rossendale Borough Council, said: "We take the safety of people using taxis in Rossendale very seriously and we require the highest standards from the taxi drivers in the borough.

"The licensing rules are there to keep the public safe and we take any breach of them very seriously. We don’t want residents and visitors to get into a vehicle with a driver who is not properly licensed and checked - we take a tough line on people flouting these rules.”

11/10/2019

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Boyfriend who beat Northampton taxi driver after partner wrongly claimed he was going to 'attack her' spared jail

https://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news ... -1-9098413

A man who punched a 64-year-old Northampton taxi driver to the floor after his girlfriend wrongly claimed he was trying to 'attack her' has been spared jail.

Casey Providence, of Henry Bird Way, arrived to the crowded scene in Bridge Street to find three taxi drivers waiting around a cab where his partner had locked herself inside. She had phoned him minute earlier and said the men were trying to 'attack' her.

The 25-year-old's response was to wade in and beat the 64-year-old taxi driver for almost a minute, in what Northampton Crown Court yesterday (September 7) heard was a "barrage of blows".

The incident began on December 9 last year, when Providence's girlfriend climbed into a taxi from outside a nightclub in town centre at 7pm.

But soon after the journey began, an argument broke out in the taxi. The passenger thought the driver was taking her somewhere else, and the driver thought she had said a different location.

It was as the taxi drove down Bridge Street that the passenger told the driver she would not pay and opened the door as the car was moving.

Having now decided he did not want the fare, CCTV showed how the driver got out and tried to pull his passenger out the car.

Prosecutor Mr Ben Gow told the court: "he took his keys from the ignition and tried to remove the passenger.

"But she then locked the passenger door, and then jumped into the driver's seat to lock the car."

Footage showed how two other taxi drivers arrived to the scene, until the 64-year-old driver and two other men were left standing around the locked car.

But what they did not know was that inside the taxi, the passenger had called her boyfriend - Providence - and told him the driver was trying to 'attack her'.

Within a minute, Providence arrived on Bridge Street in his own car, before he threw off his jacket, marched up to the three waiting drivers and punched the 64-year-old in the face.

Mr Ben Gow said: "It was nothing less than a barrage of blows.

"He repeatedly punched the driver, who then tried to run away, before pushing him to the floor and kicking him repeatedly. It was a sustained attack."

Police arrived shortly after the attack began and arrested Providence - who, after reportedly having the situation explained to him, apologised and gave a full statement to the police about what happened.

The victim sustained extensive bruising, a black eye and a cut lip from the attack.

The 25-year-old attacker later pleaded guilty to assault, and admitted to police he had 'lost it' at the time but regretted 'taking justice into his own hands'.

Recorder Bernard Thorogood, who sentenced the case, said: "It seems to me he was angry when he arrived, and found his girlfriend in a locked car surrounded by three men after a distressing phone call.

"But the thought in your mind does not provide you with mitigation... This was a sustained attack against a man who offered you no violence or even the slightest resistance. He didn't even lift his hands to fight back.

"But I do believe you when you say you are genuinely remorseful... I am just - only just - willing to suspend this sentence."

Providence was handed a 14-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months. He will also complete 80 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay the victim £1,500 in compensation.

07/10/2019

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Taxi driver says he lost half his customers due to Burton roadworks

https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/burton ... ks-3390946

'We can't survive like this,' he says

Image

Image: Burton Mail

A Burton taxi driver says he has lost around half his customers since a major Burton was closed for roadworks.

Now it has been revealed the work outside Burton Rail Station in Borough Road has been delayed.

Cabbie Nabil Razzak said: "If they come to us and say it's going to be eight or 12 weeks. I'll have to look elsewhere. We can't survive like this."

Borough Road, including the forecourt of Burton Railway Station, has been closed since Monday, July 29 for improvement works.

It has meant the taxi rank outside the rail station is shut, with drivers who usually occupy the taxi rank moved to the bottom of Borough Road, near the junction with Mosley Street.

The route was expected to re-open on Sunday, September 22, however it has been revealed by Staffordshire County Council, which is in charge of the works with Network Rail, that there will now be a delay.

It now says that the road will not reopen "later this autumn". The delay has been caused by the discovery of electrical equipment buried beneath the road and pavements encased in concrete.

Taxi driver, Mr Razzak, 40, has told BurtonLive that he is currently serving less than half the number of customers he had before the works began.

An average day pre-works would have seen him pick up around 12 people, while now he typically has five customers per day.

The father-of-three said on some days he only makes around £20 - far less than before the works began.

He said: "It's been a nightmare.

"When we were first told about it, we thought five weeks, we'll struggle but it is what it is.

"People now have to come all the way round and you can imagine, if you're elderly, disabled, it's raining, it's cold, people don't want to be walking half a mile just to get a taxi.

"We've lost at least 50 per cent of our work. It's not getting any better; it's a nightmare."

He is an independent driver, who says he relies on customers coming off trains, needing taxis rather than securing work through a call-line.

Image

Image: Burton Mail

The improvement project is costing roughly £350,000 and is being paid for by Staffordshire County Council.

According to the council, works will make the station "more accessible" by relocating a zebra crossing on the road.

Two new bus stops are being added, which will display passenger information in real time.

Better lighting and new planters are being placed outside the station, while Borough Road itself is being resurfaced across the railway bridge.

A new one-way system is being introduced to the forecourt, with the on-site taxi rank given a new layout.

A spokesman from Network Rail apologised for "any inconvenience" caused due to the delays to work.

They said: "While this work takes place there is currently no forecourt at the entrance, meaning the taxi ranks are temporarily at the bottom of the hill. They are signposted from the station and pedestrian access is maintained.

"There have been some delays to the work, due to issues with the ground condition and ongoing work to make this waterproof.

"We apologise for any inconvenience and are working to complete the interchange development outside Burton-on-Trent station in the next few weeks.

"This will include space for taxis and improved transport links for passengers across the area."

Mr Razzak said: "We'll have to look elsewhere if it continues. I haven't done anything drastic yet because we haven't heard anything official.

"And for the public, disabled people, it's a long way to walk from here, up the hill to come back round and into the station.

"For example, I had a couple call the other day asking to go to Uxbridge Street, I explained how the rank was now down the bottom.

"He said to his wife 'look by the time we've walked down there, we could be home', so they did. That's exactly what they did, they weren't young, but people aren't willing to come all the way round.

"It's our livelihood at the end of the day, we tolerate it for a bit and I think we've co-operated quite well.

"Not knowing what's going to happen is the frustrating thing."

07/10/2019

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Sandwell taxi driver loses licence after mounting pavement outside school

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/loc ... -incident/

A taxi driver who mounted the pavement outside a school causing a mother to fear she and her child would be run over has been stripped of his licence.

The unnamed man was one of two drivers who had their permits revoked by councillors at a closed meeting of Sandwell’s Council’s licensing sub committee.

They had appeared before a private meeting, which was held to decide if they should be allowed to keep their licences after breaking traffic laws.

The decisions were revealed in minutes of the committee’s meeting held on September 2 where one, only identified as Mr M I, admitted he had mounted the pavement and partially parked on double yellow lines outside a primary school as parents and children were arriving.

In a witness statement given to councillors, the mother said the vehicle almost drove into her and her child leaving her shocked and fearful.

She added she had felt intimidated by Mr M I’s driving and his attitude when she challenged him.

Explaining his actions to the committee, Mr M I said a passenger had requested him to park near to the school gates and wait for them to return and he had only mounted the pavement because it was a narrow road.

But in revoking his licence the committee said he had exhibited unacceptable behaviour as a professional driver and a disregard for public safety and was therefore was not fit and proper to hold one.

In a second case heard by councillors, a driver identified as Mr I H admitted he had been convicted by magistrates for driving on a defective tyre and not wearing his seat belt after police investigated an accident when his car had hit a brick wall.

He told the committee the accident had happened as he was driving his taxi in snowy, icy conditions and had skidded on black ice.

He explained he had purchased a tyre two weeks before the accident and had assumed that it was safe.

But revoking his licence councillors said drivers should be clear of major road traffic offences for a period of three years and the committee had no reason to depart from guidelines.

07/10/2019

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New rules could see private hire drivers working in Liverpool targeted

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... e-17020224

Drivers working in the city could face more scrutiny

Private hire drivers from outside Liverpool could be the subject of extra inspections under new proposals - but one borough looks set to be left out of the plans.

Members of the council's licensing committee could give permission next week for officers to move ahead with a plan to better regulate vehicles from two neighbouring boroughs that work in the city.

If successfully completed, the plan would give Liverpool licensing officers the ability to inspect private hire vehicles from both Sefton and Knowsley, with officers there having the same rights towards Liverpool drivers.

However, according to council documents, neighbouring Wirral has not responded to requests from Liverpool to cooperate on the plan.

Taxi drivers in the city have long complained that drivers from other areas can more easily flout rules designed to protect customers because Liverpool council staff can't assess them.

The report authorising the city manager to move ahead with plans to implement the new rules says the council is currently 'severely limited' in how it can tackle violations by out of borough private hire drivers.

It says: "Currently, the City Council’s Licensing Officers are empowered within Liverpool to inspect licensed vehicles and drivers licensed by Liverpool City Council.

"This severely limits the powers of City Council officers to regulate the entirety of private hire activity in the City, a large proportion of which is now carried out by 'out of area' vehicles licensed by neighbouring authorities, predominantly Knowsley and Sefton Councils."

"In order to address this issue the City Manager has been in discussion with his counterparts in Knowsley and Sefton Councils and it has been agreed that a formal arrangement should be entered into between the three authorities whereby each Council’s licensing officers shall be authorised to inspect licensed vehicles found working in their area notwithstanding that they are licensed by one or other of the two other local authorities."

The report calls on the council to give the city manager authority to draw up a formal agreement between Liverpool, Sefton and Knowsley.

It goes on to say that of the other authorities in the Liverpool City Region, Wirral has refused to cooperate while the numbers of vehicles coming in from both St Helens and Halton is negligible.

Members of the licensing committee will consider the proposals at a meeting next Wednesday.

06/10/2019

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'£140 from Leeds to Wakefield': Leeds Uber prices rocket - this is why

https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/ ... 1-10032747

Leeds taxi customers have been noticing prices for their journeys rocket over the past few weeks.

Trips that normally seem affordable have risen by three or four times.

Prices seemed to peak on Saturday night (29), with one woman on Twitter saying Uber were charging £140 from Leeds to Wakefield. [about 12 miles according to Google maps]

Another woman said she paid £47 for a taxi from Leeds to Horsforth [six miles], while a third paid £55 from Leeds to Bramley [also around six miles].

"Last time I'll ever use Uber," she wrote.

The two-mile journey from Burley to Merrion Street was quoted as at least £20.

Another disgruntled customer on Wednesday evening said his journey from Leeds Station, usually costing £7, had increased to £28.

It's all down to Uber's surge pricing, which increases prices if there is too much demand and too few cars in the area at any one time.

And a Leeds Uber driver said the recent increase in surge journeys was down to two factors - the return of students to Leeds and the wet weather.

"It's not been like his until recently," he said. "It is with all the students coming back, there is so much more demand.

"And the weather means people aren't wanting to walk."

He said the surge multiplier on Saturday reached 4.4.

"The highest I have ever seen is 4.9," he added.

Customers are warned via the app when a surge is in place. A number appears, which is what your typical fare will be multiplied by.

The driver said midweek evenings had also seen surges, with a 3.4 multiplier on Monday night when the rain was heavy.

Other more established Leeds-based taxi firms do not use surge pricing, but many customers do choose to cough up if it means a taxi arriving more quickly at the touch of a button.

An Uber spokeswoman said: "The Uber app uses dynamic pricing to make sure that people can always get a car when they need it.

"When a large number of people in a specific area are booking a trip at the same time and there aren't enough available cars, fares automatically rise to encourage more drivers to go to the busy area.

"Users will always see a fare estimate in advance so they have the choice to book a car, share the trip with others or wait until fares go down.”

06/10/2019

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Man who racially abused Blackpool taxi driver claimed his drink had been spiked

https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news ... 1-10035502

A man made race hate remarks to a taxi driver and punched him twice in the face after he would not take him as a fare.

Travis Phipps told police he was not a racist, his behaviour was out of character and he believed his drink had been spiked.

Phipps, a former shop worker, 36, of Hornby Road, Blackpool, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated assault when he appeared before magistrates at Blackpool.

He was sentenced to a 12 month community order with up to 20 days rehabilitation to be supervised by the probation service, ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work for the community and told to pay £100 compensation with £85 costs plus £85 victims’ surcharge.

Prosecutor, Pam Smith, said Phipps refused to get out of a cab in Dickson Road on April 20, at about 2am after the taxi driver, believing he was drunk, said he could not take him as a fare because he could not pay up front.

Phipps repeatedly refused to leave the cab and when the driver called the police he made race hate remarks before punching him twice in the face.

When interviewed Phipps said he had drunk six vodkas and Cokes which was not a lot for him.

He had no recollection of events since leaving the Sapphire Bar.

He was not a racist and believed his drink had been spiked.

Stephen Duffy, defending, said his client was acting out of character.

A police office who saw him that night saw him banging his head on a window and described him as behaving in a entirely strange fashion.

06/10/2019

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WHAT WAS HE THINLING

Taxi driver who ploughed into car was three times drink drive limit

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/ayrshire/ ... g-20393613

Now Martin Cockburn, aged 60 of Forge Road, Ayr, has lost his driving licence – as well as his livelihood.

An Ayrshire taxi driver was more than three times the legal drink-drive limit when he ploughed into another vehicle near Prestwick Airport.

Cockburn appeared at Ayr Sheriff Court last Tuesday for sentencing.

He admitted driving on the A79 near Prestwick Airport on August 2 this year with a reading of 156 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is just 50 microgrammes.

Laurin Campbell, the fiscal depute, told the court how the accused was travelling near the roundabout at the A79 north of the airport when the crash happened.

“A collision took place, police attended and spoke with the accused and other witnesses,” she said.

“They asked him for a breath test and due to the reading he was informed he was under arrest and transported to Ayr police station.”

Due to a fault in the calibration of the testing kit, Cockburn was then requested to undertake a blood specimen.

Ms Campbell said: “A police doctor attended and blood was obtained. It was examined and provided 156 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 50 microgrammes.”

Cockburn’s defence solicitor told the court how his client was a married man and now unemployed.

He said: “He’s been a taxi driver for most of his adult life. Now that’s been lost.

“He has no previous convictions and nothing else outstanding.

“He’s had his licence since 1979 – without incident.

“He received a call from his brother with disturbing news and he drank a quantity of alcohol and he felt he was fit enough to drive.

“He was driving to his employment, was impeded by a slow-moving vehicle.

“He anticipated being ‘let out’ but it did not happen and he struck the vehicle in front of him.

“He was fully cooperative with the other driver and the police.”

He added: “There’s significant regret and remorse.

“He does not intend to drive again. He recognises that it’s behind him now.

“It’s a first offence but a fairly calamitous one.”

The court was told there were no passengers in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

Sheriff David Young banned Cockburn from the roads for 14 months and ordered him to re-sit his test.

Cockburn was also fined £500 and given 28 days to pay.

03/10/2019

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oe Anderson calls for action after cab driver 'didn't know where Old Swan was'

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... r-17020861

Mayor wants new licensing system that protects local drivers

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has repeated his calls for action over taxi licensing after he said a black cab driver in Liverpool didn't know where Old Swan was.

Mayor Anderson said he was shocked that the hackney driver he flagged down outside the Devonshire House Hotel in Edge Lane had no idea how to take him to his home in Old Swan - which is around 1.5 miles away.

The city leader said it was more evidence that a new approach needs to be looked at to give Liverpool Council more powers and money to work on improvements in the taxi and private hire trade in the city.

He has spoken before about the need for a Liverpool City Region-wide taxi licensing system that he feels would be fairer on the city.

He explained: "I couldn't believe it - this guy had no idea how to get me to Old Swan, which was just up the road.

"It just makes me furious that we don't have more ability to protect our local drivers who really do know the city well.

"We have got to do something, because at the moment every penny we make from licensing is ring-fenced."

Mayor Anderson said there is a major problem with drivers heading to neighbouring boroughs like Knowsley and Sefton where licences are cheaper and easier to get - and then heading into Liverpool to ply their trade.

He added: "I have proposed before that we have a city-region wide license that everyone pays into and where the money is fairly distributed.

"We desperately need more inspectors in Liverpool to try and stop people from coming in and taking work off the drivers from the city."

Liverpool has been continuing to clamp down on dodgy drivers - despite having rapidly diminishing resources.

Last week Hackney Carriage driver Girwel Singh was hit with a hefty fine in court after trying to scam football fans at Anfield.

He was caught as part of an ongoing city council crackdown called Operation Topaz, which aims to protect the public from match day taxi scams.

Magistrates in Liverpool heard that 36-year-old Singh was parked on Walton Breck Road, close to Anfield Stadium, for Liverpool’s home match against Burnley in March.

Undercover council licensing officers, who were patrolling as part of Operation Topaz, witnessed Singh talking with a group of passengers before letting them into his car.

When he set off, he didn't switch his meter on - and when stopped, officers discovered Singh had quoted the passengers £20 for a journey that should cost just £7.50 on the meter.

IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE MAYOR IS A LITTLE UPSET

03/10/2019

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Outrage as Sheffield customer requests an ‘English driver’ from City Taxis for their trip

https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/traffic- ... rip-643360

Drivers have been left outraged after a customer requested an ‘English taxi driver’ to pick them up in Sheffield.

The customer contacted City Taxis to pick them up and then drop them off at the Ibis budget hotel in Attercliffe Common.

A notice was sent out by the company to shocked drivers informing them that the customer wanted an ‘English driver’ for the journey.

The notice read: “Customer has requested for English driver. Go inside for collection. Do not beep your horn, see reception for customer. Wait and return.”

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said that they were upset a City Taxis operator accepted the request and said that it had caused outrage among drivers.

They said: “A lot of taxi drivers have been taken aback by this and they’re not happy. City Taxis could have easily refused it.

“Can you imagine if the customer would have said that they didn’t want an LGBT taxi driver or a female driver? It would cause uproar but they still sent it out.

“There are a lot of different cultures in Sheffield and people should treat everyone equally and with respect. You can't say you don’t want one race and request another one.

“If you do that then you must have an issue with that particular race of people.”

The outraged Sheffield resident said that he had raised the issue with City Taxis but claimed that they were not treating the incident seriously enough.

“The company are not doing anything about it and we’ve had nothing back from them explaining why they sent it out,” they said.

“City Taxis are a private hire company, they have obviously not given enough training to the operator about taking this job on or they have not discussed the race and discrimination act with them.

“Companies allowing requests like this will just make things worse and it’s going to become a regular occurrence. If they just put a stop to it at the time I don’t think it would happen again.”

City Taxis have been contacted for a response.

03/10/2019

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Southend Council appeals for volunteer taxi drivers to help with locations of new electric charge points

https://yellowad.co.uk/southend-council ... ge-points/

Taxi drivers are being asked to help the council decide where four new charge points for electric taxis should be installed.

The council is calling for up to 50 drivers to take part in the exercise that will result in the new charge points being installed for exclusive use by taxi drivers.

To measure the best location for the four charge points, volunteer taxi drivers will be asked to install a device to their vehicles for a month which will track their location and show the highlight the busiest routes.

The data will be completely anonymous and used only to track where there is the most activity.

Councillor Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council, said: “Just like local households, taxi drivers need help and support to embrace the change to low emissions vehicles and particularly access to charging infrastructure, and I am pleased that this important piece of work is progressing.

“We need to know where best to put the four rapid chargers, and so consultation with the taxi trade has already begun.

“However, we are seeking volunteers to have a device fitted to their vehicles for a month so that we can identify the best locations for the chargers from the activity.

“These drivers will receive a personalised report showing how suitable electric vehicles would be for them and the savings they would make in their running costs.

“The tracking study is due to start during October, so that we can choose locations, and then procure and install the chargers in the first half of 2020.”

The new charge points are part of a wider plan to significantly improve electric car infrastructure in the borough with the aim of having more than 100 charge points across Southend by March 2020.

Funding for the project will come from a £90,000 grant received from the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “Promoting better air quality for future generations is a priority for this administration and encouraging sustainable transport is one part of the puzzle.

“Because taxis are relatively high mileage users, they have specific charging needs and need dedicated infrastructure to ensure they are able to top up their batteries.

“We hope that installing more rapid rechargers will make it easier for taxi drivers to consider making the switch.”

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03/10/2019

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Dumfries and Galloway tuk-tuk taxi bid sparks police safety fears

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland- ... d-49759932

Police have raised a string of safety concerns about a possible tuk-tuk taxi service in southern Scotland.

An inquiry has been received by Dumfries and Galloway Council relating to the application for a licence for the three-wheeled vehicles.

However, police said they had concerns about them tipping over at roundabouts or on tight turns.

They also said the lack of doors meant any side-on impact would result in "injury or worse" to any occupants.

A report to the local authority's licensing panel asks it to consider whether it is satisfied, in principle, that a tuk-tuk is suitable for use as a taxi or private hire.

The tuk-tuk is a motorised version of the traditional pulled rickshaw or cycle rickshaw.

They are popular in countries with tropical climates with the biggest manufacturer based in India.

A request has now been received which could pave the way for their use in the cooler climes of south-west Scotland.

It has prompted concerns from both council officers and police.

Transport manager Gordon Bryce said he did not believe the vehicle was suited to the region's roads, as its top speed of about 40mph would make it an obstruction on trunk and B roads, increasing the risk of accidents.

He said the lack of safety devices like air bags was his "greatest concern".

He suggested it would be more appropriate to look at using electric tuk-tuk vehicles in a major town on agreed routes and within agreed times.

Sgt Jonny Edgar, from Police Scotland, said negotiating the likes of the large A75/A76 roundabout at any speed would make a three-wheeled vehicle liable to tip over.

He also highlighted the small size of the vehicle as a concern.

"Coupled with no airbags or side impact protection, I fear death or serious injury is a very real possibility," he said.

He added the lack of doors on the vehicle was also of particular concern if it was used by "intoxicated patrons or children".

"There are reports of intoxicated passengers falling from the rear of a tuk-tuk to their death," he said.

"Although seatbelts would be present it would be naive to believe that all passengers wear them."

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03/10/2019

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Taxi drivers to be consulted on levels of wheelchair access

https://www.dumbartonreporter.co.uk/new ... ir-access/

COUNCILLORS have agreed to consult West Dunbartonshire taxi drivers over proposed changes to access for wheelchair users.

In 1996, rules were passed for drivers in Clydebank, which ensured all cars are required to be wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) - but this isn’t a condition for cabbies in Dumbarton and the Vale.

At a meeting of the licensing committee last week, a local driver called on the council to re-consider the move, which he said was pricing out drivers in the area, who already faced competition from neighbouring authorities.

John Gallagher, a driver from Clydebank, was allowed to speak in front of the committee - which was considering a report on the demand for taxis in general across West Dunbartonshire.

Mr Gallagher said: “In Clydebank, all of our vehicles need to be wheelchair accessible.

“The situation for us is, it’s now impossible to keep up.

“It’s more expensive to buy and maintain these bigger and more accessible vehicles, some of the guys are having to do school runs to make up the difference - this is costing us money.

“We need to get together with the licensing office and come to some sort of a balance because the competition that we’re facing from other areas, is making it hard for us to afford.”

Mr Gallagher implored the council to meet with drivers, in a bid to strike a balance.

He said: “We just want some consultation between drivers and yourselves on this issue.”

Mr Gallagher also pointed to the pricing for the purchase of taxi licenses, which is roughly double the amount it is for the nearest competition in Glasgow and East Dunbartonshire.

He said: “I’m not looking for you to make it cheaper, but that’s just an example of more that we’re having to pay.”

Other drivers were also on hand to lend their thoughts on the matter.

Dumbarton-based Steve McEwan, of Wright Taxis, told the committee that there are not enough WAV vehicles in the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven taxi zone.

He said there may be scope to reduce the Clydebank quota, while increasing the Dumbarton zone numbers at the same time.

Mr McEwan said: “The report said there was an 18 minute wait for people needing a WAV, while it was around 10 minutes for people who needed a regular car.

“We’re looking for something that’s going to work in both areas.”

Recommendations from officers in the report presented to the committee stated there was no need for a change to the number of available licences in either zone, nor was there any demand for an increase in the number of WAVs.

Council leader and vice-chairman of the committee Jonathan McColl tabled a motion to accept the recommendation of the officers, but also added that a taxi forum be called in a bid to see what drivers feel should be done in relation to provision of WAVs in the area.

Raymond Lynch, the section head for licensing, appeared to agree with the move, saying: “The forums we’ve had in the past have always been well attended and very helpful.”

Following the forum, a report will be brought back to the committee for consideration.

14/09/2019

********************

Taxi drivers to be consulted on levels of wheelchair access

https://www.dumbartonreporter.co.uk/new ... ir-access/

COUNCILLORS have agreed to consult West Dunbartonshire taxi drivers over proposed changes to access for wheelchair users.

In 1996, rules were passed for drivers in Clydebank, which ensured all cars are required to be wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) - but this isn’t a condition for cabbies in Dumbarton and the Vale.

At a meeting of the licensing committee last week, a local driver called on the council to re-consider the move, which he said was pricing out drivers in the area, who already faced competition from neighbouring authorities.

John Gallagher, a driver from Clydebank, was allowed to speak in front of the committee - which was considering a report on the demand for taxis in general across West Dunbartonshire.

Mr Gallagher said: “In Clydebank, all of our vehicles need to be wheelchair accessible.

“The situation for us is, it’s now impossible to keep up.

“It’s more expensive to buy and maintain these bigger and more accessible vehicles, some of the guys are having to do school runs to make up the difference - this is costing us money.

“We need to get together with the licensing office and come to some sort of a balance because the competition that we’re facing from other areas, is making it hard for us to afford.”

Mr Gallagher implored the council to meet with drivers, in a bid to strike a balance.

He said: “We just want some consultation between drivers and yourselves on this issue.”

Mr Gallagher also pointed to the pricing for the purchase of taxi licenses, which is roughly double the amount it is for the nearest competition in Glasgow and East Dunbartonshire.

He said: “I’m not looking for you to make it cheaper, but that’s just an example of more that we’re having to pay.”

Other drivers were also on hand to lend their thoughts on the matter.

Dumbarton-based Steve McEwan, of Wright Taxis, told the committee that there are not enough WAV vehicles in the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven taxi zone.

He said there may be scope to reduce the Clydebank quota, while increasing the Dumbarton zone numbers at the same time.

Mr McEwan said: “The report said there was an 18 minute wait for people needing a WAV, while it was around 10 minutes for people who needed a regular car.

“We’re looking for something that’s going to work in both areas.”

Recommendations from officers in the report presented to the committee stated there was no need for a change to the number of available licences in either zone, nor was there any demand for an increase in the number of WAVs.

Council leader and vice-chairman of the committee Jonathan McColl tabled a motion to accept the recommendation of the officers, but also added that a taxi forum be called in a bid to see what drivers feel should be done in relation to provision of WAVs in the area.

Raymond Lynch, the section head for licensing, appeared to agree with the move, saying: “The forums we’ve had in the past have always been well attended and very helpful.”

Following the forum, a report will be brought back to the committee for consideration.

14/09/2019

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Private hire taxis in Wolverhampton set for changes

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/black- ... t-16910027

Chiefs say the amendments are necessary due to new technology being introduced within the business, alongside the introduction of cross-border hiring with neighbouring counties

Private hire taxis in Wolverhampton are set to undergo a number of changes in the way they operate, the city council's licensing bosses have announced.

The city council has recently been in consultation with the local private hire trade group over proposed alterations in the way firms conduct business in terms of base, driver and vehicle procedures.

Licensing chiefs at the council say the amendments are necessary due to new technology being introduced within the business, alongside the introduction of cross-border hiring with neighbouring counties.

In a report to the council, Chris Howell, the city's Licensing Services Manager, said: "The conditions under which private hire taxis operate were last amended back in 2017 and then implemented on January 1, 2018.

"Although there is no legal requirement to consult with the private hire trade groups, we are doing this in the interest of positive working relationships in the city.

"The onset of technology within the trade and also the intricacy of cross border hiring necessitates several proposed changes.

"Base operators will now need to provide drivers with each customer's contact details to enable them to have immediate access to satellite offices and systems, as well as being able to use interactive voice response.

"Also, the system will now include the taking and storage of digital images rather than paper records. All drivers must now tell the licensing services of any changes in their circumstances or work undertaken on their vehicles," he added.

Private hire taxis differ from the black Hackney cabs at the city centre ranks in that they must be pre-booked by telephone in advance and cannot be flagged down or picked up on the street.

"There is also a requirement for drivers to undergo drug and alcohol testing at any requested time, and also to inform the council if they are ever arrested for anything," said Mr Howell.

"A number of other minor amendments are still being discussed with bosses from the city's private hire taxi companies."

The council's Non-Statutory Licensing Committee is due to discuss the proposals next week.

14/09/2019

**************************************************

The reason why more and more Teesside taxi drivers are getting their licences from Wolverhampton

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/tees ... i-16469572

One local council doesn't agree with the practice, but is powerless since a change in the law

More and more Teesside taxi drivers are deciding to get their license in Wolverhampton - but why?

Council bosses in the West Midlands city issue more licenses than any other in the country, and last year rubber-stamped a whopping 11,811 private hire licenses.

But only 852 of those were issued to drivers operating in Wolverhampton itself.

The rest were for drivers working all over the UK.

And it's a trend that's been growing across Teesside with more and more drivers every year choosing to be licensed by a council with offices more than 150 miles away.

Until recently, drivers and their vehicles had to be licensed within the authority they would be working in.

But a change in the law in 2015 opened up the market nationally, allowing councils to engage in cross border licensing.

According to Middlesbrough Council, the practice undermines its "ability to set standards and take action against any wrongdoing".

Concerns have been raised over this issue by local authorities, MPs and the Local Government Association.

In September last year, a Parliamentary Task and Finish Group on the taxi/private hire trade made a recommendation to Government that legislation was required to prevent the practice.

But Wolverhampton Council say their licensing department has provided "an exemplar" for other local authorities to follow and has dismissed criticisms as being "unfounded and commercially motivated".

Why Wolverhampton?

For one thing, getting licensed in Wolverhampton is cheaper.

There are three licenses involved for a private hire driver - someone who must pick up pre-booked fares only, not those who hail them from the street like Hackney Carriage drivers.

There's one for the firm, one for the vehicle and one for the driver.

If a new private hire driver wanted to license themselves and their vehicle for one year in Middlesbrough, assuming the vehicle is more than three-years-old, it would cost them £474.

In Redcar and Cleveland those same licences would cost a total of £470, in Stockton it would be £460 (having subtracted £44 for the DBS check included in the stated price).

But in Wolverhampton, it's just £284.

Middlesbrough Council has attacked the practice

An authority spokesman said: "We are aware that some local taxi drivers are obtaining licences through Wolverhampton following a recent change in the legislation.

"Before this change, it was normal practice for vehicles, drivers and operators to be licensed in the area where they intend to carry out their work, with each local authority being able to set the standards it requires.

"Middlesbrough Council has always set high standards for its licensed operators and drivers, with robust procedures and passenger safety of paramount importance.

"It does not therefore seem right that operators can obtain licences with other local authorities, sometimes hundreds of miles away, without ever intending to work in those areas.

"Middlesbrough Council has limited enforcement powers over their activities, undermining our ability to set standards and take action against any wrongdoing."

But Redcar and Cleveland Council didn't see a particular problem

Cllr Barry Hunt, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and environment, said: "We require high standards for our licensed taxi drivers and vehicles and we would encourage the government to implement national minimum standards for drivers and vehicles to ensure road safety across the country.

"There has only been a very slight drop in driver applications over the last three years and the applications for vehicle registration has remained constant. We have not been informed of drivers registering elsewhere."

And Cllr Steve Nelson, Stockton Council’s cabinet member for access, communities and community safety, said: “Taxis provide a valuable service in Stockton-on-Tees so our overriding consideration has to be public safety.

"We have a clear and consistent policy which ensures high standards of all operators, vehicle owners and taxi drivers and we would encourage those operating in Stockton to obtain their licenses from this authority.”

Working with Wolverhampton is an 'easy process'

A spokesman for Royal Cars, which has offices on Marton Road, Middlesbrough, said working with Wolverhampton Council "is an easy process".

Image

Image: Evening Gazette

"The cost of licensing vehicle with this council is substantially less than with our local councils," a statement said.

"In the current climate every penny is accountable, and therefore we had a need to source an alternative.

"Their customer service is always readily available to speak directly to if we have any questions.

"Communication from Wolverhampton Council regarding updates are received on a daily basis.

"We have had no issues over the past few weeks and look forward continue working with them."

Wolverhampton's standards 'far exceeds' other councils

A spokesperson for Boro Cars said: "Wolverhampton Council sets some of the highest standards for the licensing of drivers in the country, far exceeding in many regards the requirements of some of the local authorities in the Tees Valley.

"Despite the higher standards, drivers choose to license with Wolverhampton Council, begging the question, why do people living in the Tees Valley travel hundreds of miles for a licence they could obtain locally?

"Because it is quicker, easier and much cheaper to obtain a licence with Wolverhampton Council as a result of the investment it has made in taxi licensing."


Image: MGA/GaThe company said officers from the West Midlands are sent to Teesside to undertake compliance and enforcement checks, and claims Middlesbrough Council has so far declined to take part in those exercises.

"If the local authorities in the Tees Valley could match Wolverhampton Council on its licensing standards and processes, technology, price, compliance and enforcement, and trade engagement, drivers and operators would not have any reason to license with Wolverhampton Council," the spokesperson continued.

"It is to be hoped that Middlesbrough's new mayor will take heed and engage with the local taxi trade as a priority."

And the firm said that if Middlesbrough Council increased its fees further, it's 'inevitable' that more drivers would licence with Wolverhampton in the future.


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This many Sefton taxi drivers had their licences revoked last year - why?

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... d-16466626

Shocking number of allegations of drivers' misconduct

Almost forty taxi drivers and cabbies in Sefton had their licences revoked last year.

According to figures given at the council's licensing meeting this week, 38 drivers lost their licences in 2018/19.

Part of a council report reads: "The panel is also convened to consider reports and allegations of misconduct by existing licence holders.

"In 2018/19 the panel considered 68 cases in which 10 licences were allowed to remain in force, one was reinstated on appeal (after being revoked), two were suspended and 38 were revoked."

It also came to light during the meeting that taxi applications in the borough have almost doubled in the past two years.

Documents on Sefton Council's website say: "Typical reasons for refusing or revoking a licence include the possession or supply of drugs, theft, violence, offensive weapons, sexual offences and driving offences including drink & drug driving."

Last month, a Sefton driver became the 114th cabbie or private hire operator to be arrested for drink or drug driving in Merseyside in a twelve month period.

The figures - which showed more than three arrests per day on average - prompted Merseyside Police to reissue a warning to cabbies and private hire drivers that taking drugs and driving could result in losing their job, being imprisoned and even them or someone else dying.

Sefton Council says it takes such offences very seriously.

Documents on the authority's website state: "A serious view is taken of any motoring conviction for driving, attempting to drive, being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and failure to supply a specimen.

"More than one ‘live’ conviction of this type would generally prevent a person from being licensed for five years after the restoration of their DVLA driving licence."

Top 

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DISCONTENT is “bubbling” among taxi drivers in Bury, according to a trade representative.

Charles Oakes, chairman of the Hackney Drivers' Association, was joined by four private hire drivers at the town hall last night.

They claimed that vehicles are unfairly failing tests for cosmetic issues such as scratches which is putting drivers out of work.

Further frustrations were expressed about the need for drivers to travel outside of the borough to be tested.

Mr Oakes told councillors on the licensing and safety panel drivers' complaints are being ignored.

He said: “There is a backlog of complaints that have not been answered. What’s going on? Because members who are aggrieved in whatever way have a right to be heard.”

Angela Lomax, head of trading standards and licensing, said that many complaints were getting lost because they were not sent to the right people.

She said: “The problem we have got, Mr Oakes, is the various pathways you are sending your complaints. We won’t deliberately ignore you. Unfortunately, we don’t have the staffing level to be sat at the desk and answer phone calls.”

However, Shaf Mahmood, a Bury Private Hire Drivers' A***/************************************ssociation representative, claimed the department was “deliberately” not answering complaints.

He told the panel about an incident on Tuesday in which a vehicle failed its MOT for having tinted windows despite passing the previous year.

Licensing unit manager Michael Bridges said he had already seen a complaint about this incident and would respond in due course.

But the disgruntled drivers told the Bury Times that testers examine vehicles with a “fine-tooth comb” and fail them "for anything", resulting in additional charges.

Mohammad Sajad, secretary of Bury Private Hire Drivers’ Association told the panel that having one licensed MOT station in the borough is not enough given the rising number of taxi drivers.

A fire at Bradley Fold station earlier this year means that vehicle testing has been relocated to Bolton for the time being.

Mrs Lomax praised the “marvellous” staff for being up and running within 48 hours at the station which is four miles away.

A total of 50 vehicles are tested every week by the Bradley Fold staff who have to deal with 1,000 drivers throughout the year.

Mr Bridges also claimed that drivers often fail to give the station enough notice before turning up for tests.

He said: “Drivers come in two days before their licence expires. It’s never their fault, it’s always the council’s fault.”

Mr Oakes said that there is “discontent bubbling” throughout the hackney and private hire trade.

He raised concerns about the proposals which could result in taxi drivers who use certain vehicles paying a daily fee for travelling on highly-polluted roads.

New industry standards are also on the horizon affecting all drivers across the region.

He said: “Drivers can’t afford all these things and every bit of money that goes into this. I’ve been complaining about the refusal of the council to allow the trade a second testing station in Bury. The fire at Bradley Fold clearly shows there’s a need for another testing station. Drivers are not going to be happy having to go to Bolton to get their vehicles tested.”

A public consultation on the common minimum standards for taxis and private hire vehicles in Greater Manchester and the Clean Air Plan is expected to take place later this year.

**********************************************

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/742470/taxi-and-phv-working-group-report.pdf


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Dirty-dealing taxi drivers snared at Liverpool and Everton football matches

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... d-16420196

Council action part of wider crackdown on trades in the cit

Image: Liverpool Echo

Taxi and private hire drivers were snared at Liverpool and Everton home games in May.

Liverpool Council continued to clamp down on dodgy drivers at football matches in the final month of the Premier League season.

Across the month of May, one private hire driver was cautioned for illegally plying for hire outside one of the football grounds.

Elsewhere, two Hackney cab drivers were cautioned for failing to wear the correct badges while trying to pick up football fans.

And another Hackney driver from Manchester got into trouble, for failing to assist an officer around the time of a match in the city.

Operation Topaz is a campaign by the city council to improve the taxi and private hire trades during football matches in the city.

It was launched after a host of complaints about drivers charging exorbitant fares to fans upfront, cherrypicking certain fares and private hire drivers illegally plying for hire after full time.

Across the city, the council had a busy month in its bid to clean up both trades in general.

During May, a total of 40 cabs and taxis were either taken off the streets or served with serious defect notices for a string of faults.

Members of the city council’s Licensing Enforcement Team patrols the city at key times on a regular basis. And during May they snared 35 Liverpool drivers whose vehicles had a string of faults such as dangerous tyres, damaged bodywork, sharp edges and unclean and unhygienic interiors.

The team also took five cars off the road that belonged to taxi drivers from outside Liverpool. Any driver issued with a defect notice has seven days to make repairs or face further action.

Three Sefton-based private hire drivers were prosecuted for taking passengers who had not booked their journey in advance (plying for hire), whilst three black cab drivers were fined for being selective in what fares they took, rather than taking the nearest available passenger (cherry picking).

The Licensing Enforcement Team also works on behalf of the taxi trade and during May more than 150 fines were issued to private motorists who had illegally parked on taxi stands.

A further 53 taxi and private hire drivers were given written cautions for violations including failing to display their badges, not having valid insurance and failing to ensure the safety of their passengers.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr James Noakes, said: “This is another successful month for the enforcement team and it is a testament to the hard work of everyone involved that they have been able to identify so many drivers who are not playing by the rules.

“It is regrettable that so many drivers have fallen foul of the rules when they should know the standards that are expected on them. We are committed to protecting the public of Liverpool and we know that the overwhelming majority of our taxi drivers support us.

“The message from the city council is clear – if you come into Liverpool intent on breaking the rules or with an unsafe vehicle, you will be caught.”

****************************************

Glasgow City Council launches taxi consultation to improve standard of vehicles

https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glas ... i-16421613

There could be big changes for the taxi industry ahead as councils across Scotland move to meet new government emissions legislation

Members of the public are being asked to provide feedback on how to improve the standard of taxis deemed “no longer fit for purpose”.

The city council’s licensing committee has launched an online consultation to determine the suitability of these cars under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

By December 31, 2022 all vehicles will be required to meet the emissions standard Euro IV for petrol engines and Euro VI for diesel engines.

A further policy could be put in place requiring that taxi vehicles be no more than five years of age at the date an application for a new licence is lodged. Substitute vehicles should also be newer than the one that is currently licensed.

This would mean from January 2023 the number of inspections for older vehicles would increase while the number of inspections for newer models would decrease.

It is also proposed that by January 2020, advertising should be removed from the bodywork of a taxi aged 10 years or more prior to the annual inspection.

Alex Wilson, chairman of the licensing committee, said: “We need to update out fleet as some of our taxis are no longer fit for purpose.

“I know it will be expensive, but I am hoping money will be available to help taxi drivers renew their vehicles. They need to be of a higher quality and able to drive around the low emission zone.”

The licensing committee is interesting in the public’s attitude to the proposed changes to the licensing and regulation of taxi and private hire car vehicles.

Views can be submitted by email until July, 29 to [email protected] or in writing to Mairi Millar, Head of Licensing and Democratic Services, City Chambers, George Sq, Glasgow, G2 1DU

More information is available on the council’s website.

*******************************************

Taxi drivers warn of more strikes in council licensing row

https://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/news/st ... es-2877094

They've also threatened to up sticks and take their £360k a year in council income elsewhere

Cabbies have warned of further strikes if controversial licensing changes go ahead.

Taxi drivers in Newcastle-under-Lyme say they could also register with other local authorities to get around Newcastle Borough Council's new taxi policy.

The council is due to approve the re-written policy on June 11. It includes new rules for vehicles testing, a reduction in the age-limit for vehicles and a new English language test, to be provided by the council.

Black cab and private hire drivers brought chaos to Newcastle town centre when they refused to pick up passengers on a Friday night in March.

Drivers and managers warn there could be further disruption if the council does not listen to their concerns.

Trevor Colclough, right, of Sid’s Private Hire in Chesterton says drivers have ‘no confidence in the council’ to provide the English test and feels the current BTEC examinations at Stoke-on-Trent College are sufficient.

“We’ve completely lost trust in the council,” said Mr Colclough. “We’ve got no confidence in the council and we want the college to do the test because they’re unbiased. It should not be done in-house by the council.”

Mr Colclough added: “I’m fearful of more industrial action after June 11 if this doesn’t get sorted.

“We’re a family-run business, we’ve always been in the borough, we love it and we don’t want to leave. But if it comes down to it, we will.”

The council’s income from taxis last year was £360,435. Sid’s says it contributes about £50,000 a year to that, and warns a large chunk of public money could be lost if there is a mass exodus of cabbies.

Quote:

Newcastle-under-Lyme taxi drivers' issues with the new policy

Taxi drivers claim to have the following issues with Newcastle Borough Council's new taxi licensing policy for 2019/20:

• Operators claim they will have to keep logbooks of service history for self-employed drivers - at a great cost of time and effort to their businesses;

• Vehicles can't be licensed past four years old for their first time and beyond seven years in total;

• Switching to electric vehicles is too expensive and they'll lose money when charging;

• A new type of testing system won't be as efficient as the Stoke-on-Trent College BTEC qualification they already have;

• They don't like the penalty points scheme;

• They say they'll have to wait between five and eight weeks for an appointment to renew their licences;

• It'll cost customers more;

• It will reduce service and safety standards;

• It will send drivers out of the borough for licences.

Shahraz Yaqub, business development manager at Autocab, says passengers will also be affected by the changes. He said: “Public safety will be impacted because there is now going to be drivers going out of the borough to get registered in places like Wolverhampton.

“Because there’s no restriction on cross-border operating, Newcastle Borough Council will have no say on the drivers operating in their borough.

“Ultimately, the costs of all this will be passed on to the customer.”

Stephen Sweeney, cabinet member for finance at the borough council, said: “The council is committed to communicating with all stakeholders involved in developing the new taxi licensing policy and has gone to great lengths to keep an ongoing and open dialogue with representatives from the Hackney carriage and private hire trade.

“The council has met with taxi drivers on numerous occasions, extended the consultation twice at their request and officers have amended some of the proposals.

"Councillors agreed to a further meeting before they make a decision on 11 June and are allowing two representatives from the trade to address councillors and put forward their points at the meeting.

“In these circumstances, and as the draft policy is still being finalised, the council feels that threats of further strike action are premature and unfortunate.”

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Reading Borough Council votes to keep cap on hackney carriage taxis

https://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/news ... age-taxi  

 Reading Chronicle

The council has voted to keep a cap on the number of hackney carriages in the borough, igniting the fury of drivers without the licence.

The decision by Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Licensing Applications committee on Tuesday (June 11) was in response to a driver-funded survey found there was no need for more hackney carriages in Reading.

A large group of rental taxi drivers who have been working for more than ten years and do not have a hackney carriage licence protested the decision and handed in a petition to the council.

The drivers called the decision ‘totally unfair’.

Sohail Abbass, speaking on behalf of the group, said: “We have been working as rental taxi drivers for more than ten years.

“It’s been a long time waiting for a hackney carriage licence. This is totally unfair.

“Many drivers come from different boroughs every day for work in Reading, spending extra fuel to come and go back home.

“The council say there is not enough work. If there isn’t enough work how they can be working here for many years?

“We request to council and councillors and the chair of licensing to please think about those drivers who been working here for long time. There is plenty of work.”

The survey, which takes place every three years, suggests a 14 per cent reduction in usage of hackney carriages at ranks since the last survey in 2015.

Just four per cent of all passengers observed experienced a delay of a minute or more at a rank.

Ali Sheikh, vice chair of the Reading Cab Drivers Association, said: “If all those people suddenly own cabs it is too much for the trade. We are happy to go with what the survey says."

A representative of Reading Taxi Association added: “It was a very comprehensive report.

“This survey clearly shows that there is not an unmet need.”

Hackney carriages are public transport vehicles which can be hailed by prospective passengers in the street and park on a rank to await the approach of passengers.

A hackney carriage must be driven by a driver who holds a hackney carriage driver’s licence.

******************************************

Taxi drivers in Bedford protest ‘unfair’ council fees

https://www.bedfordtoday.co.uk/news/pol ... -1-8940063

It’s not fair! That’s the cry from taxi drivers in Bedford who claim that they pay much more in fees than their colleagues other towns.

And on Tuesday, a petition signed by scores of drivers from the Bedford Hackney Carriage Association, and their claims of unfairness will be discussed by councillors.

“Our council charges over £400 for a Hackney Carriage test each year,” said Tahir Rashid, Haroon Rashid and Mohammed Bashir, in a protest email to the council.

“This is one of the highest in the county and neighbouring counties.

“A fee of £81 for a retest is unfair and unjust and we believe this should be abolished.”

They also called for the first increase in six years in the minimum fare they can charge customers, from £3.20 to at least £3.80. This would they say put them on a par with private hire drivers.

Drivers also say that if Central Beds taxis are re-tested in Bedford, they are charged £27, while a driver from the town is charged £81.

The General Licensing Committee had agreed to a new range of fee increases at its meeting on February 7 but the objections mean the decision has to be reviewed.

Taxi drivers met with council officers on May 16 and confirmed their objections to proposals for two per cent increases, including in the fee for retesting vehicles from £81 to £83. The views of other objectors will be reported to next week’s meeting.

Sue Lyons, Bedford Council’s interim chief officer legal for and democratic services, in her report to the General Licensing Sub-Committee, says: “The law requires that all objections validly received are considered before any decision is taken to confirm, reject or modify the fees and charges objected to.”

The council, even though it has a policy of “maximising income from fees and charges,” is legally obliged not to make any more money out of licensing fees than it needs to cover its costs.

So the sub-committee has been told that income generation was predicated on the basis that the maximisation would be lawful and, therefore, this needs to be considered. Any potential impacts on the council’s budget would be considered by the executive.

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axi driver 'sexually assaulted' by a customer in Liverpool city centre

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... r-16315541

Driver 'forced passenger out of the cab' after incident on Pembroke Street

Police have launched an appeal after a taxi driver claimed he was sexually assaulted by a passenger while driving through Liverpool city centre.

The incident is said to have happened while the driver was heading down Pembroke Street during the early hours of the morning. The driver, said to be in his 30s, claims that a customer sexually assaulted him as he was driving.

The ECHO understands the driver forced the man out of the taxi after the incident. He later reported the matter to police, which is said to have happened at around 12.40am on May 12.

A police spokesman said: "Merseyside Police are currently investigating an allegation of sexual assault following an incident that took place on 12th May.

"The incident was reported to have happened in the early hours of Sunday morning at around 00:40am on Pembroke Street, Liverpool when a taxi driver, a man in his 30s, was reportedly sexually assaulted by a male passenger. Officers are continuing to investigate the incident and are working with the taxi driver to identify the person responsible."

Detective Inspector Graeme Towndrow said: “Anyone that has also been a victim of a similar incident is urged to get in contact so we can investigate and bring offenders to justice.

“No one should be made to feel uncomfortable or scared going about their daily business. Taxi drivers are key within the Merseyside community and we’ll do everything we can to support everyone living, working and visiting Merseyside.”

Anyone with information should call 101 or DM @MerPolCC quoting 19100246681.

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Cabbie has licence suspended after abusing council staff

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/clacton-tax ... -1-6059649

An Essex cabbie has had his taxi licence suspended for six weeks after abusing council staff.

John Hall, of Edgware Road, Clacton, had his licence suspended by a panel from Tendring District Council's Licensing Committee in November.

The panel then heard how Hall, 57, had acted aggressively towards Tendring District Council (TDC) staff on four occasions, including being abusive on the phone and being intimidating to employees at their office.

Councillors had found the driver had breached licence conditions which state taxi drivers must behave in "in a civil and orderly manner".

Hall appealed against the decision, and the case was heard before Colchester Magistrates' Court on Thursday, May 16.

Magistrates' upheld the licensing committee suspension, and described TDC staff as "clear, concise and credible".

The bench reduced the length of the suspension to six weeks, and ordered Hall to pay £1,500 in costs.

Hall now has 21 days within which to appeal to the crown court, and if no appeal is made then the six-week suspension will begin.

Speaking after the hearing, Karen Townshend, TDC's licensing manager, said such behaviour would not be tolerated.

"We try to build a positive relationship with taxi drivers in our district, but we will not sit back and take abusive or aggressive behaviour while carrying out our work," she said.

"This includes referring cases to our licensing committee and defending them in court where necessary.

"Only by doing this can we uphold the highest standards of our taxi drivers, and therefore make sure people in Tendring get the top-quality taxi service they deserve."

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YOU MUST WATCH THE VIDEO

https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/p ... ck-2845405

Boy joyriding taxi with PASSENGER in the back caught on hair-raising dashcam

Taxi driver said it was 'a miracle nobody was killed or injured' during incident, which he has compared to a terrorist attack

ByCarl EveCrime Reporter

15:39, 8 MAY 2019UPDATED16:38, 8 MAY 2019

SHOCKING CCTV FOOTAGE OF STOLEN TAXI DRIVEN AROUND PLYMOUTH

This is the shocking dashcam footage from a taxi which was taken by a reveller and driven at speed into oncoming traffic, narrowly missing pedestrians and mounting kerbs - while a terrified passenger was still on-board.

Police say officers were alerted to an incident at about 11.20pm on Sunday, May 5 where a black Mercedes taxi was taken without the driver's consent from outside the Co-operative store in Notte Street.

Taxi driver Corneliu Croiala told Plymouth Live he had stopped his black cab after being flagged down by two fares. A destination was agreed but one of the passengers asked to go to the nearby ATM to get cash while the other got into the cab.

However, 38-year-old Corneliu - who has been a taxi driver for 10 years and prides himself on saying he is a British citizen - said he became aware of a group of "about 10 to 20 kids" on the pavement who were trying to get into the already taken taxi.

Watch the hair-raising dash cam video above to see what happened

Can you help police identify this man shown in a still from the taxi's dashcam? (Image: Jon Bishop / Plymouth Live)

He said: "They were in and out, even climbing over the passenger, pulling on the automatic door, closing and opening it. It's an electric door and it doesn't slide manually so them forcing it can cause it damage.

"I had to get out and remove them, told them to walk away and to mind their own business."

As he was securing the rear door one of the laughing revellers ran around the front of his vehicle, briefly appearing on the taxi's dashcam, and leapt into the driver's seat. Cornelieu - seen in a white shirt in the dashcam footage - chased after him but by the time he arrived at the door the brake had been released and the automatic locking system had engaged.

Corneliu said: "I was struggling to open it and he drove off.

"I flagged down the first taxi coming towards me, which was one of my black cab colleagues and we rang police, then I jumped in and we headed towards Millbay to see where he went."

Dashcam footage from stolen taxi in Notte Street

The footage shows the suspect's friends leaping about, laughing and even filming him taking the cab as it then raced off along Notte Street, carrying out a series of shocking driving manouvres.

The suspect immediately overtakes a cab at speed, veering onto the other side of the road into oncoming vehicles. He then overtakes another vehicle which has pulled up at the red lights at the junction with Lockyer Street again driving towards oncoming traffic.

The Mercedes taxi then pulls a U-turn, mounting the pavement opposite The Crescent before racing back down Notte Street. Shortly before the junction with Hoe Approach the suspect overtakes another taxi, crossing onto the wrong side of the road, swerving back and forth as they cross the hashed junction.

These witnesses are still being sought by police as they carry out their investigation into the kidnapping of a passenger and taking of the taxi (Image: Jon Bishop / Plymouth Live)

Turning left at speed into Buckwell Street, the taxi again crosses over onto the wrong side of the road, briefly mounting the pavement before travelling along it for around a hundred yards and again carrying out a U-turn, mounting the pavement yet again.

Racing back down Buckwell Street, the suspect turned right without pausing to wait for oncoming vehicles which were travelling east along Vauxhall Street.

The dashcam footage shows the cab racing back past the Co-operative store, again overtaking a vehicle using the opposite lane - but this time into the path of a police carrier van.

The cab continues to speed along the road accelerating towards a pedestrian who his still walking across the carriageway. The vehicle finally comes to rest on the pedestrian crossing which leads to the Hoe.

Kidnap suspect raced into path of police carrier along Notte Street before pulling back into correct lane (Image: Jon Bishop / Plymouth Live)

Corneliu said the passenger, who he estimated was in his mid 20s, was clearly terrified throughout the incident.

He explained: "I've had to change the format from the original dashcam footage which has taken the sound off. On the original you can hear [the passenger] screaming, crying, begging the driver to stop all along the way.

"It was a miracle he didn't pass out, you can hear how frightening it was. It was really really scary. It was very lucky this person [the suspect] didn't kill anyone. There's two near head-on crashes - one with a police van and one with another vehicle. It's just luck he didn't crash head-on."

This taxi was left damaged after suspect stole it in Notte Street while a passenger was still on board (Image: Corneliu)

Corneliu said he has been left with an estimated repair bill of around £5,000 with his cab suffering a broken rear right door, broken rear right wing, damage to a front wheel after the suspect repeatedly mounted the kerb, a broken window mechanism and damage to the automatic sliding door mechanism.

He said he'd continue to use the cab for a few more days but expects to lose it for up to a week while it was being repaired - causing him to lose much-needed business.

He told Plymouth Live: "Nothing like this has ever happened before to me. I know people will say, 'Why didn't you take your keys out?', but no cab driver does that when they are attending a passenger. If you get out of your car to help your mum into the vehicle with her shopping, you don't take your keys. I wanted to secure my passenger, secure my door while waiting for my second passenger.

"Then this little idiot does this.

These witnesses are still being sought by police as they carry out their investigation into the kidnapping of a passenger and taking of the taxi (Image: Jon Bishop / Plymouth Live)

"I'm just mainly happy that he didn't kill anyone.

"You see those incidents where a terrorist steals a vehicle and drives it at people, not caring - this was like that.

"His friends were all cheering him on and recording him. I think his adrenaline built up and he probably thought it would be funny. But he was nearly killing people - it's just so bad."

This taxi was left damaged after suspect stole it in Notte Street while a passenger was still on board (Image: Corneliu Corneliu)

Detectives have told Plymouth Live they were aware there were a number of people present at the time the taxi was taken and they are keen to hear from them. The lead investigator has revealed they are still hunting for the suspect who is wanted on suspicion of kidnap and of aggravated vehicle taking.

If you recognise anyone from the images showing either the suspect or a number of witnesses who were at the scene - some of whom may have video or photographic evidence of the incident - contact police on 101 or email [email protected] or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 quoting crime reference number CR/039673/19.

10/05/2019

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Video on the website, which is almost four minutes long, but to be honest a minute's worth is all you need to see, if that.

But certainly a bit angrier than the last 'angry' meeting. Last thread on this was getting messy, so started new one.

Angry taxi drivers force council meeting to be suspended in Birmingham

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/m ... l-16109079

Drivers claim they are being 'forced off the road' by the pollution charge


Image: Birmingham Mail/LDRS

Angry taxi drivers brought a council meeting to a halt as a row broke out over the impact of the Birmingham city centre Clean Air Zone.

They claimed they are being 'forced off the road' and warned that further go-slow protests around the city centre are now likely.

Birmingham City Council's Licensing and Public Protection committee passed a controversial new emissions policy which means hundreds of Hackney Carriage and private drivers will have to upgrade or replace their vehicles if they are to continue working in the city from next year.

But the meeting this week (Wednesday) spiralled out of control when drivers were told they would not be allowed to speak about the changes.

They voiced their dissatisfaction and approached committee members to remonstrate prompting a number of councillors to leave the room.

The meeting was adjourned for several minutes before it resumed and the committee approved the policy.

The new policy introduces a raft of changes, but in the main it replaces the Euro 4 (petrol) and Euro 6 (diesel) vehicle standards - applying to other cars entering the Clean Air Zone - with an age limit.

From January 2020 no diesel Hackney Carriages older than 15 years old will be granted a licence, unless they have been converted in the council's LPG pilot scheme.

It means out of around 1,120 black cab drivers only 493 will be licensed with more than 620 forced to upgrade. Although the council said 350 of those would be eligible for an LPG conversion.

The age limit for private hire vehicles was set at 12 years meaning around 2,700 out of more than 4,100 drivers will be licensed from January.

An 'exceptional condition test', which previously allowed older vehicles to operate longer, will be scrapped and only applicable to vehicles which have been retrofitted by a Government-approved scheme.

Another controversial proposal in the policy means that from January 1, 2021, all newly licensed vehicles will have to be ultra low emission, when previously the date had been 2026.

The policy has been changed significantly from original plans following consultation with drivers who put forward alternative suggestions and made a list of requests.

But not all their demands have been met.

Chairman Cllr Barbara Dring said: "We have done the best that we can, that's the commitment I have given to you (drivers) and that's the commitment I have made."

Craig Johnston, regional organiser in the Midlands for the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said: "This will drive people off the road. Many members have told me this will push them into financial hardship and some of them will have to give up.

"Managing change is difficult and meeting these targets (for air pollution) was going to be challenging however taking people with you in this is more likely to lead to a successful conclusion than brassing everyone off which is what the council has managed to do today by shutting down the meeting."

Mr Johnston added that he remained hopeful further discussions could take place with the council to hopefully change the policy, but confirmed that drivers were likely to hold go-slow demonstrations in the city.

The Government approved the council's Clean Air Zone business case earlier this year, which will impose an £8 daily charge to high-polluting cars travelling inside the A4540 ring road - but not on it - from January 2020.

They also approved £15m worth of funding to support the black cab and private hire trade.

Measures include providing 50 ultra low emission Hackney Carriages for lease and £5,000 support packages for 1,000 black cab drivers which could be used to pay for a retrofit conversions.

Financial support will also be available for private hire drivers.

While licensing is not supposed to be political, fingers were pointed at the Labour-run council introducing the Clean Air Zone and equally the Conservative-led Government for demanding the authority drastically reduces air pollution.

It was also pointed out that only Labour councillors left the meeting as it was suspended.

Chris Neville, the council's head of licensing, said: "The Clean Air Zone is the solution the city has adopted to respond to the Supreme Court's ruling that we have to achieve European air quality standards in the shortest possible time.

"In theory there are different ways of doing it, however the technical advice and scientific advice in Birmingham is such that there is no other way of achieving it without a Clean Air Zone, so effectively we are faced with no choice."


Image: Birmingham Mail/LDRS

1/05/2019

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Bolton Council suspends two private hire drivers

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/17 ... e-drivers/

One was suspended for two weeks after he failed to declare a speeding conviction from November 2017.

Another driver was suspended for four weeks after the council discovered he was caught driving an uninsured vehicle last year.

He failed to tell the licensing authority about the major motoring conviction within the timescale required.

Councillors decided to suspend the private drivers at a meeting held in private on April 16.

Minutes from the meeting explain why the drivers were considered not to be “fit and proper” to hold the licence.

They said: “Drivers have a duty to declare convictions in accordance with the conditions of their licence.”

Members of the licensing sub-committee concluded that it was reasonable to suspend their licences as a warning and a deterrent.

The committee was concerned that one driver failed to declare his speeding conviction when he renewed his licence last September.

The offence only came to light when the council made enquiries to the DVLA and the driver had then been requested to submit a new declaration, which he did in November.

There was also a note on file that the driver had been signposted to the council’s website and given a guide on where to find the online declaration form in July.

The other driver, who was suspended for four weeks, declared his conviction 34 days late.

Councillors were concerned that driving without insurance was a “very serious matter”.

However, the man in question was not acting as a private hire driver at the time of the offence and had not used his licence for approximately nine years.

Another application due to be discussed by the committee was deferred until the next meeting to enable the driver to be legally represented.

1st  May 2019

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Car crashes into Trafalgar Street petrol station in Burnley

https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/n ... n-burnley Chloe Egan/Lancashire Telegraph

A WOMAN had to jump out of the path of a taxi as it ploughed into a petrol station.

Chloe Egan feared for her life as a black Hackney cab crashed through the Spar shop at Kitchen’s Garage in Trafalgar Street, Burnley, at 11pm on Saturday.

The car had gone through a large glass window and stopped in the middle of the store, destroying stock.

Ms Egan said the shelving nearest to the window started toppling down towards her.

She said: “I jumped out of the way as the taxi came past my feet and into the shop.

“The taxi was inches from me.

“I was very scared because I did not know what was going on. It was frightening.”

The site was closed for several hours while the car was removed from the store.

Staff confirmed the Spar shop opened today but only to serve customers buying fuel.

The majority of the store was inaccessible due to the scale of the destruction.

Image: Chloe Egan/Lancashire Telegraph

No members of staff were injured in the incident.

A fire service spokesman said: "An elderly gentleman drove into the shop front.

"He did not suffer any physical injuries but was in a state of shock.

"He did not require cutting out of his car.

"The damage to the shop front is significant."

: Chloe Egan/Lancashire Telegraph

Ms Egan, 26, said: “My friend came in and told me to get out of the shop and he went over to see what was going on.

“Fortunately, no one was injured, the driver was in shock.

“I was the only person at the till when it happened.

“The car went down the first aisle and almost hit the beer fridge.

“It came through really fast.

“My car was parked near where the car had gone through the window outside.

“If it was a metre to the left the taxi would have hit it."

A police spokesman said: “No one has been arrested as this is not a criminal matter.

“It is believed the driver may have had a medical episode and the crash was an accident.”


 Chloe Egan/Lancashire Telegraph

A large amount of damage was caused to stock inside the store and staff were tasked with cleaning up the damage.

A wooden board has temporarily replaced a glass panel which was smashed during the incident.

One customer said: “I drove onto the forecourt of the petrol station and saw the big board and wondered what had happened.

“There was broken shelving fixtures and the staff had a big task of cleaning it all up. I felt sorry for them all.”

The Kay Group Ltd, which runs the petrol station and several others in East Lancashire, were contacted for a comment

 Chloe Egan/Lancashire Telegrap

22/04

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Colchester Borough Council investigating taxi driver who was caught on CCTV defecating on the street

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/colchester- ... -1-6008193

Licensing officers are investigating reports that a taxi driver stopped his car and defecated on a street in Colchester after CCTV footage has emerged of the incident.

The incident alledgedly happened on March 27 at 7.20am when a man driving a silver car pulled up outside of the back entrance of a social club in the Essex town, and relieved himself on the floor.

The incident was caught on the CCTV of Greenstead Social Club in Blackthorn Avenue and the driver was reported to Colchester Borough Council who say they are now planning to interview the culprit.

Michael Lilley, port-folio holder for planning, public safety and licensing, said that “action will be taken” to deal with the driver in question.

“It is absolutely disgusting,” he said.

“I don't know why someone thinks they can act like that.

“Because the borough council licensed him he is expected to act according to our code of conduct. Actions will be taken to deal with him.

“The owner of the club has asked for an apology because one of his bar staff had to clean it up later that day.

“We will be having a meeting with him next week and we will take action. It has not been decided yet but we may pass on our information to the police.”

A member of staff from the club said that they had to clean up the mess. They described this incident as “disgusting” and said that they would like an apology.





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Now taxis are boycotting Orchard Park as drivers have eggs thrown at cars and windows put through

https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hu ... rk-2466716

Peter Nilsson has spoken out

Image

Image: Hull Daily Mail

The chairman of a taxi association has said he and his drivers are boycotting Orchard Park after a recent spate of shocking crimes dominating the area.

Intimidated residents have claimed youths on the Orchard Park estate in North Hull are "out of control" and are terrorising residents.

They said they have become prisoners in their own homes and shop workers are regularly taunted by a gang of up to 15 youths who steal items, ride bikes in stores and throw food at staff.

One even said the kids are "ruling the roost".

Stagecoach buses have even been forced to divert away from the area after several vehicles had their windows smashed by youths throwing bricks, stones and metal poles at the vehicles.

Meanwhile, Humberside Police have arrested five youths for 23 offences over the past two weeks and are working with residents to reassure them and bring a stop to antisocial behaviour.

And now, Peter Nilsson, chairman of the Hackney Carriage Association, says he has had enough and has told his drivers to avoid the area completely.

He said: "I have been monitoring the situation for the past three weeks and looking on social media to see what has been going on down there and I know drivers have had their windows put through and the risks are too high.

"It can cost up to £100 to repair paint work. I've spoken with licensing and made them aware and they have advised us not to take jobs there and if anyone wants to go there in the day, then it is at the driver's discretion."

Mr Nilsson said that by boycotting the area he is going against regulations and could face prosecution but he said "the driver's and customer's safety comes first".

He added there are times when outbreaks like this happen, but believes the Orchard Park situation is "getting worse".

He said: "It keeps happening and you can't drive down there on a night. If it was just the once or twice then we could work around it.

"We have had to draw a line and it isn't something we've done lightly. I don't want to stop people getting taxis down there but until Hull City Council and the police get together and become more proactive and the area is safe then we don't want to go down there.

"We want to provide a service to everyone but we're not prepared to take that risk.

"A couple of years ago a taxi driver had his window down and a brick went through and hit him, and another time one went through and hit a baby in a pram - I don't want that happening again.

"One of my concerns is that a driver gets hit and then you've got a big vehicle moving at 30 miles per hour that has to stop somewhere and it could hit someone or another car."

Mr Nilsson said the issue on Orchard Park needs sorting.

He said: "There's too much risk and until it gets sorted out we can't drive down there. Buses are having to divert because they are getting targeted and I have spoken with Stagecoach about it.

"It's an area that isn't really a cut through or lead to anywhere so if we drive through there it is to drop someone off.

"Doing this we are limiting people's movements but what are we supposed to do? The threat is everywhere and is that high."

Mr Nilsson reiterated his main concern is the safety of his drivers and customers when travelling through Orchard Park.

He said: "I represent 170 drivers and we want to get them, and our customers, home safe. You will always get an idiot who is a risk and we will deal with that but this is different when they are doing it all of the time.

"It's not about the money for us, this will cost us money if we refuse jobs and we're losing work but that is outweighed by the safety of our drivers and I don't want our customers getting into my car and getting hurt.

"It is my job to get people home safe but at this moment in time we cannot say that for certain."

Image

Image: Hull Daily Mail

What Humberside Police say

A spokesman for Humberside Police said: "We are investigating the report of a taxi having an egg thrown at it as it travelled along Greenwood Avenue in Hull at around 12.30pm on Wednesday 23 January.

"The taxi driver called us to report the incident at 6.15pm by which time he had taken the car to be cleaned.

"Following recent concerns of anti-social behaviour on the Orchard Park Estate we are pleased that the taxi driver took the time to report this incident and we would like to provide the reassurance that we have recently made five arrests in connection with over 20 offences.

"We hope that if more people are able to share their experiences with us we can address issues of ASB, find those responsible and deal with them appropriately."

If anyone has any information regarding the attack on the taxi in Greenwood Avenue, call police on 101, quoting log 23/01/19.

Yesterday, police revealed that they had arrested five teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 for 23 antisocial behaviour offences, including public order, criminal damage, harassment and theft.

At the time, they stressed it is only a minority of teenagers causing problems and they do not class their behaviour as "gang" culture.

Communities Chief Inspector Lee Edwards said most youths' behaviour in the area is simply akin to socialising with friends, but he reassured the public they are working to combat and rehabilitate young troublemakers.

He said: "We know that the majority of the residents of Orchard Park are decent, law abiding citizens and I appreciate the impact that antisocial behaviour (ASB) can have for those people.

"I want to reassure you that we are out and about in your community and will continue to be so and to work with you to ensure that Orchard Park remains a great place to live and work. North Hull can be a busy area for us, however we have a strong team in place who know the area well and regularly talk to residents and take proportionate action to address their concerns and reduce incidents of this nature.

"We do see increases in reports of ASB at certain times of the year, particularly during the school holidays. Children and young people will meet with friends and hang out in groups near to shops, parks and other local landmarks.

“I appreciate that this can sometimes feel intimidating and most of the time they are just socialising with friends and not causing any harm or committing any offences. However, I do recognise there is a small group of teenagers who are causing problems for the rest of the residents in the area.

“We want people to feel safe in the area and confident to leave their homes without having any concerns and I want to offer my assurance, where offences are committed we will investigate and take appropriate and proportionate action."

22/04

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'I thought I was going to be killed': Taxi driver speaks out after attack

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/17 ... nage-gang/

A TAXI driver has told how he thought he was going to be killed by a gang of teenage boys in what police have described as a "vile" racist attack.

Ali Mahboob, from Bolton, was set upon by seven youths during Saturday afternoon after he asked them to stop throwing stones at his car.

The 44-year-old was racially abused and threatened before he was beaten with sticks in Kenyon Way, Little Hulton, where he had gone to pick up a fare.

He said: "They had a piece of wood and hit me 25, 30 times, I fell over and they were beating me on my back, my head and my face.

"I don't know how I managed to get up and run to the taxi, how my body managed it but I thought 'They are killing you'.

"I got in to the taxi and I was so exhausted I did not feel any pain, it was only later the pain started, and it my customer who said I had been injured."

The attack happened just before 1pm.

Mr Mahboob, who lives in St Helens Road, was waiting outside a house in Kenyon Way, when a stone was hurled at his windscreen.

Stones continued to be thrown at his car as he was driving off.

The taxi driver pulled over and asked the group to stop throwing the stones and was badly beaten.

He managed to get up and flee the gang who chased after him, and ran to his taxi and drove off, with the customer still inside.

Mr Mahboob suffered cuts and bruising to his lower back and face and required hospital treatment.

"I have two or three lumps on my head, and the back head hurts, and my face it cut," he said.

Mr Mahboob said he was left extremely worried by the abuse he received.

"One said to me 'you Muslims, we are going to do to you what happened in New Zealand'. I was very worried, I didn't work for a few days in that area.

"I asked why would somebody do this, I have not done anyone any wrong.

"I want everyone who reads this to teach their children not to throw stones at people's car. This is the fourth time stones have been thrown at my car causing damage, but it could make a driver lose control.

"If my children did this, I would punish them.

"I went to ask and they attacked me."

Police are now appealing for witnesses and information to catch those responsible.

The attackers are said to be seven white teenage boys who were wearing dark clothing and hooded sweatshirts.

PC Daniel Marshall, of GMP’s Salford district, said: "Incidents of this nature will never be tolerated in our communities, and we are doing everything we can to find those responsible for this vile attack.

"We have been carrying out a number of lines of enquiries since this incident and we are now appealing for the public’s help.

"If you were in the area at the time and you saw anything then please get in touch with police as soon as possible.

Anyone with any information about the assault should contact police on 0161 856 2836 quoting incident number 1132 of 06/04/19.

Information can be passed on anonymously by calling the independent charity Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111.

09/04

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Glasgow first council to introduce cap on private hire car and taxi licences

https://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/175 ... -licences/

GLASGOW City Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to introduce a cap on private hire car and taxi licenses.

A survey carried out by Local Transport Projects on behalf of the local authority found that between 2008 to 2013 the number of private hires across the city reduced from 2805 to 2638 but had risen to 3759 by 2018.

The number of taxis on the road was already limited to 1420.

The study also showed that during week days only 60 percent of private hires were in use but 90 percent of cars were needed on Friday and Saturday nights.

Throughout the consultation researchers engaged with private hire and taxi firms, Glasgow Association of Mental Health and the general public. Overall taxi companies seemed to have a better reputation.

Despite concerns that people may waiting longer for a cab during peak time members of the licensing committee agreed to restrict the number of taxis on the road.

They have introduced an upper limit of 1420 and a lower limit of 1278 taxis. At the time they agreed an upper limit of 3759 and lower limit of 3383 for private hire cars.

There are still 228 private hire car licence applications pending consideration. Private hire car companies as well as taxi firms backed the move.

John Cassidy of Network said: “We are pushing for this. Our full time drivers need to be able to make a living. This will help.”

Steven Grant, secretary of Glasgow Cab Section, said: “Members made the right decision today. This is what’s best for our trade and our city.

“It will help tackle air pollution and congestion in the city. The main concern is public safety and this will hopefully cut down pirating where private hires pick up off the street illegally.”

Dougie McPherson, Glasgow Taxis Ltd chairman, said: “Overall this is a positive step for the city in creating a more level playing field for providers and ensuring the customer continues to benefit from sufficient supply and choice.”

19/04

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Criminal checks on Bristol taxi drivers full of flaws

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bris ... rs-2703884

The checks are going to be tightened up

Bristol is set to tighten up its criminal checks on taxi drivers after the system was found to be full of holes.

Internal auditors assessed Bristol City Council’s system for licensing drivers of taxis and private-hire vehicles in the wake of sexual abuse scandals in towns such as in Rotherham and Rochdale.

They found Bristol’s licensing process was particularly flawed when it came to checks via the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to find out whether an applicant has a criminal record.

The council’s chief internal auditor Jonathan Idle ran through the weaknesses his team identified at an audit committee meeting on March 26.

Mr Idle said one of the chief concerns was the council’s lack of records showing whether DBS checks had taken place.

“At the time, DBS documentation was not retained, and so we could not provide the assurance that those DBS checks had been undertaken,” he said. “We couldn’t say they have, and we couldn’t say they hadn’t.”

The auditors were also worried by the number of temporary renewal licenses being issued while the council waited for background check information to arrive.

Temporary licenses undermine the controls that are in place to protect the public, yet their number rose significantly last year.

“We see there are risks in doing that,” Mr Idle said.

The auditors also found that enhanced DBS checks were not being requested often enough to ensure the licensing committee had up-to-date information about an applicant’s criminal convictions, he said.

There was also no assurance that checks performed on DBS documents were accurate or that DBS details were recorded accurately.

And there was not enough control over the issuing of duplicate licenses, where originals are lost by the license holder, or over the stationery used to produce taxi license plates and taxi driver badges.

Mr Idle said his team made nine recommendations to address the problems, all of which will be put in place.

“Members are aware of the potential adverse implications for local authorities when taxi licensing operations do not work effectively,” he said, citing Rotherham and Rochdale.

The licensing assessment was carried out after the Department for Transport (DfT) published a report in September 2018 containing 34 recommendations to make the licensing of taxi and private hire vehicles safer and more robust.

The report was produced in response to government ministers’ concerns the current regulatory regime for taxi and private hire vehicle drivers is no longer fit for purpose.

Last month, the DfT launched a consultation on new licensing guidelines to better protect passengers.

Ideas include the compulsory installation of CCTV cameras in all taxis and a national licensing database to stop a driver banned from operating on one area of the country simply moving to another where checks are more lenient.

Labour councillor for Easton, Afzal Shah, said Bristol-licensed taxis were “in the minority” in the city now.

He asked whether the council was working closely enough with neighbouring authorities to manage the risks associated with taxi drivers licensed outside of Bristol.

Fiona Tudge, head of safeguarding, said: “We have got to reach out and work with our neighbouring authorities who are also working with the same issues.”

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‘Don’t make low-pay minicab drivers pay London congestion charge’ mayor is urged

Two east London borough councillors are among 24 from all over London who have signed an open letter to City Hall today urging the mayor to scrap plans for the Congestion Charge for minicab drivers.

It’s the latest stage in a long-running protest campaign by the angry drivers which also includes blocking London Bridge tomorrow.

Tower Hamlets Council member Gabriela Salva Macallan from Bethnal Green’s St Peter’s ward put her name to the letter of support, along with Newham Council member Sasha Das Gupta from Forest Gate.

The letter urges Sadiq Khan to reconsider his decision to bring in the £11.50 daily charge from Monday for minicab drivers, which is now being challenged in the courts by the drivers’ trade union.

The charge could cost up to £3,000 a year, with many drivers earning below the minimum wage.

“These costs will be too much to bear for many,” the Labour councillors’ letter stresses. “Drivers will be forced out of their jobs, or be thrown into poverty and forced to work longer hours to get by.”

The mayor argues that the charge is necessary “to reduce congestion and air pollution” across London.

But the letter insists: “The costs of protecting our environment cannot be borne on the backs of the most vulnerable. Private hire drivers are some of the most exploited and precarious workers in London, taking home ‘poverty’ wages despite working gruelling hours.”

It follows a vote by Labour members on the London Assembly calling for the Congestion Charge on minicabs to be withdrawn. They urge instead a limit on driver licenses, a levy on operators such as Uber and a minimum wage enforcement.

TfL’s own impact assessment shows congestion would only be reduced by one per cent, with a negative impact on air pollution, the Independent Workers union claims. Licensed ‘black cab’ drivers, meanwhile, continue to be exempt from the charge.

The union has now applied for a Judicial Review of the mayor’s decision and is continuing its ongoing protests. Drivers plan to park their minicabs on London Bridge tomorrow to block it to traffic, while lobbying City Hall.

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IDFIMH

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Drivers say CCTV in East Riding taxis is cutting violence and fare dodging

https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hu ... ng-2717800

All licensed vehicles in the East Riding could have CCTV within a year after pilot scheme

CCTV and dashcams in taxis are helping to cut violence and fare dodging, say East Riding cabbies.

A voluntary scheme in the East Riding has seen 199 of the 328 licensed vehicles kitted out with CCTV and dash cam systems.

East Riding Council is now hoping to have all licensed vehicles equipped with CCTV within a year.

The voluntary CCTV scheme has been well received by drivers and passengers, the council's cabinet will be told on Tuesday.

Paul Bellotti, director of communities and environment, says in a report: “Since the systems were implemented, feedback from drivers has indicated that they feel there has been a reduction in violent incidents and non-payment of fares.

Image

Image: Hull Daily Mail

“Some anecdotal feedback from passengers confirmed that they felt safer when there was a camera installed.

“In addition, footage has been used by the police and licensing authority in investigations which have led to actions against individuals for assault of drivers/passengers, theft, burglary and footage has played a key role in determining no fault in taxi driver accidents as well as rebutting false allegations made by passengers against drivers.”

Mr Bellotti says the presence of CCTV is a deterrent to criminal or other unacceptable behaviour and also provides vital evidence in situations where an incident has been reported, which might otherwise have been one person's word against another.

The council decided in 2016 to introduce a pilot CCTV scheme.

He says: "This followed a small number of reports of assaults on taxi drivers, false allegations made by passengers and concerns around the transportation of vulnerable adults and children on passenger service runs."

Councillors will be told consultation will be required about making CCTV a mandatory requirement in all licensed vehicles but it is hoped to have all fitted by April 2020 at the latest.

In Beverley, hackney carriage driver Neil Broadley plans to have CCTV fitted into his car, after having it in his previous vehicle.


Mr Broadley says: “I think it’s a good idea for drivers’ protection.

“CCTV is a good thing if an incident happens, or if there’s an accusation made against a driver or against a customer.

“It gives you that bit of reassurance, it protects everyone.”

Another licensed driver, Paul Kettlewell, says CCTV is “another eye” on what is happening.

He says: “Generally speaking people are alright, they just want a lift. But in this day and age, when things happen it’s another eye.

“If there is an accident or anything like that in front of you it shows who is to blame.”

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Taxi drivers are running a shocking gauntlet of abuse from youths in Wigan town centre and may boycott the area if the problems continue.

Black cabs have been kicked, bricks have been thrown at windows and yobs have grabbed makeshift barriers to blockade routes while others lined up to hurl insults, furious industry representatives have said.

Wigan Council says a stream of reports of serious anti-social behaviour have been coming in and information has been reported to central watch and Greater Manchester Police (GMP), leading to at least one person being barred from the area to prevent them causing trouble.

However, some hackney carriage operators say that is not enough and say the public might even have to do without black cabs in the middle of town if the barrage of incidents is not stopped.

The worst-hit areas appear to be on Dorning Streets and the roads around Wigan Parish Church leading back to the taxi rank on Wallgate, with most of the problems occurring between 6pm and 9.30pm.

Black cab driver Eddie Earley said: “These young thugs are hanging around and drivers coming back into the town through the centre are getting attacked.

“Cars are being damaged with windows smashed and vehicles were being stopped with barriers near the bus station being put in the middle of the road.

“That whole area should be on CCTV and yet this has been going for the last two weeks. It doesn’t look like enough is being done.

“This is doing a lot of damage to the town centre, it’s making it a not very nice place.

“It’s getting to the point where we will have to make it a no-go area for the taxis and then the public will suffer. We will only use the main roads and people will have to pay more to get into town.

“We will boycott the whole town centre if we have to. Safety of the drivers has to be guaranteed. We can’t have people picking things up and lobbing them at taxi drivers.”

Mr Earley says he has been told up to half a dozen youths have been causing the trouble, with half of them appearing to be teenagers.

He said drivers targeted by yobs will face bills of around £200 for each smashed window and £300 or £400 if a door gets damaged.

Police hunt robbers who raided Wigan off licence Wigan Council condemned the anti-social behaviour but strongly denied it was not doing anything to combat the problems.

It said action had already been taken and the town hall would continue using the surveillance set-up to pass evidence to the police.

Dave Lyon, assistant director for environment at Wigan Council, whose department also covers CCTV said: “Anti-social behaviour such as this is never acceptable and we will always work closely with colleagues in the police to mitigate and diffuse such unacceptable behaviour where possible.

“Our central watch team is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will always inform the police if and when they witness these kinds of reports.

“I am aware that a number of incidents have been witnessed and shared with our GMP colleagues, which has led to at least one individual having conditions imposed to restrict their movement in this area.

“There is a heavy CCTV presence in the immediate town centre and we will continue to share any footage with GMP to support their ongoing enquiries.”

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Plans to introduce card payments in taxis halted after backlash from drivers

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... s-16066814

The council offended drivers over one particular aspect of the proposals

Plans to introduce mandatory card payments in black cabs across Liverpool have been halted following backlash from drivers.

A decision was deferred by the council's licensing committee today after members from Unite trade union argued strongly against one particular aspect of the proposal at a meeting which saw tensions bubble.

The new laws would require all hackney drivers to mount a card payment facility to the back of the cab - costing them between £100 and £280 depending on if they chose to buy a printer with the machine.

The city council say this would allow passengers to have "complete control" over their card - preventing taxi drivers from being accused of taking incorrect or extra payments.

But taxi drivers present at the meeting said this argument was offensive as it suggested taxi drivers were "robbers".

They argued they would always hand the card machine to the passenger if kept in the front, but that the expensive machinery would be vulnerable to damage and vandalism from kids or drunk passengers if they were forced to install it in the back.

Tom Mcintyre, a Unite officer said: "We see it [card payments] as a positive. It's something that should have been coming for a long time. Everybody knows kids don't carry cash these days, we have a major challenge. Where we have a problem is having it in the back of the cab.

"In Liverpool we carry a lot of young girls with prams, little kids sitting in the back, touching the buttons.

"We want this to work. We can implement this in six months, most of the trade are willing to do this. The biggest bugbear is putting this in the back."

Licensing officers have been asked to prepare a report on the implications of the card payment facility being kept in the front following today's meeting.

It is the second time they have been forced to make changes following backlash from drivers.

Under the city council's initial proposals, all hackney carriage drivers faced having to fork out £280 for a card payment facility and printer within six months of being asked.

Licensing officers amended this proposal after a consultation received "unfavourable" responses from drivers who complained about being "bullied" into making costly decisions .

Proposals up for debate today required all hackney carriages to introduce a card payment facility without a printer within 12 months, which would cost between £100 and £150.

A council officer explained: "The reason we don't want [the card facility] in the front is historically, drivers have taken the card [by hand] to take payments, What we don't want is the drivers to be accused of taking money from the cards, double payments, or more money off the card."

But taxi driver and Unite member Paul James hit back and said: "With all due respect I take offence at the implication all taxi drivers are robbers. It's not happening in London. "

He said allowing the card facility to be kept in the front would be cheaper as it could allow drivers to purchase smaller equipment in the region of £35-£50.

He added: "We are the cab drivers, I can see the council's point of view but they are not the ones paying for it."

Chair of the licensing committee Malcolm Kennedy denied the council were accusing taxi drivers of being robbers but said the only way forward was to agree to the proposals or ask for a new report considering the implications of allowing the card machine to be kept in the front.

Committee members agreed to the latter option, expressing sympathy with cab drivers over their concerns.

Councillor Anna Key said: "I am a mum of four kids and I can see them messing around [with the card facility]. Teenagers after a few drinks could vandalise it."

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A local taxi driver was stopped by the police and his taxi seized because it had been reported stolen.

The problem seems to go back a little while. A local operator bought the car from a chap and subsequently sold it to one of his drivers. Unfortunately the operator who bought it did not do a check on the vehicle before he bought it and it has turned out that the chap who sold the car had still got finance on it. It all blew up when he stopped paying the finance and the finance company reported the car as stolen. The chap who was driving it has now been left without the car and has given the operator 2 weeks to give him his money back.

This could be interesting because as far as I am aware the driver has no comeback on the operator because the operator was not aware that there was any finance on the vehicle when he bought it.

I can see this all ending in tears.

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Struggling taxi drivers hit out at council plan to hike fees in Blaenau Gwent

https://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/ ... nau-gwent/

PLANS to hike the cost of taxi licensing fees above the rate of inflation in Blaenau Gwent have been met with opposition from the trade.

Blaenau Gwent council is proposing to increase the annual cost of vehicle renewal and drivers licence fees from £296 to £350 a year.

Additional costs for licence holders needing replacement plates or licences have also been proposed.

The proposed rise comes after taxi fares were increased, with the maximum cost for a two mile journey increasing from £4.10 to £5.20.

A council report says the fare increase will help cover the proposed license fee hike.

But a letter from Blaenau Gwent Hackney and Private Hire Taxi Association has strongly criticised the plans.

It says any increase should not be above the inflation rate of 3.21 per cent.

However the association calculates plate renewals are going up around 20 per cent, while badge renewal costs are rising by around 14 per cent.

"We understand that you agreed an increase in taxi fares on August 1, 2018 but this was just allowing us to play catch up on the seven years since the previous increase on April 1, 2011," the letter says.

"This has not increased our income and like other businesses in the area we still struggle with the rise in the cost of living and lower footfall."

Running costs continue to increase, and the association says drivers are lucky to make "anywhere near" the national minimum wage.

The association adds that Blaenau Gwent is one of the most deprived areas in Wales, but that licence fees in other areas are lower.

A council report says fees charged are based on costs incurred to deliver the service.

Setting fees based on those of neighbouring authorities is no longer allowed.

Guidance says fees set should be 'reasonable', but the over-riding intention of taxi licensing is to protect public safety.

The report says this year's proposed rise is slightly higher as there was no increase in fees last year.

The proposed fee increases will be discussed by Blaenau Gwent council's General Licensing Committee at a special meeting on Tuesday.

10/03/2019

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Taxi driver in 'boy racer' lift warning

https://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/17475850 ... t-warning/

A LEADING taxi driver has warned people could be sexually assaulted or end up in a “tragic road accident” if they get in cars with “boy racers” outside clubs.

Bob Mullen, secretary of the Furness Taxi Trade Association, said drivers had told him “quite often” motorists, who were not in registered or private hire vehicles or taxis, were offering lifts to revellers late at night on Cavendish Street.

Mr Mullen raised the issue at a recent Barrow Council meeting and called for private hire vehicles to be banned from displaying lighted roof signs, which he said suggested to passengers they could be used without pre-booking.

An earlier draft of council taxi policy had proposed roof signs needed to be removed from private hire vehicles but after consultation, this idea was scrapped.

Mr Mullen told councillors: “In the interests of public safety, I would like councillors to seriously consider reversing the decision made by the Licensing Committee regarding roof signs on private hire vehicles.

“The public safety issue is that the trade and no doubt the police are aware of a number of so-called “boy racers” hanging around local nightclubs in the early hours.

“Some have been observed offering lifts to people whose judgement may be impaired due to intoxication.

“Not all of these drivers have the best interests in mind of the vulnerable young people they are picking up.

“We strongly suggest that it should be publicised that for their own safety people coming out from late night venues should only get into cars with a lit roof light unless they have pre-booked.

“This is obviously not possible if private hire cars which cannot legally pick up without pre-booking also have roof lights.

“None of us wants to say we told you so after a tragic road accident or a case of sexual assault.”

Cllr Tony Callister, Barrow Council’s licensing boss said discussions were ongoing. He said: “We have formed a working group with taxi drivers and talks to find a way to properly distinguish private hire cars and taxis are currently ongoing.”

10/03/2019

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Police take nine cars off the road in day of action

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/17 ... of-action/

POLICE seized nine vehicles and reported a further 31 in just one day of action against dodgy drivers.

Traffic officers patrolled Bolton’s streets on Monday in an effort to crack down on poor drivers and stop accidents.

They were joined by council enforcement officers who suspended 14 private hire drivers on the same day for a variety of safety and licensing offences.

It all comes as part of Operation Crackdown, an ongoing GMP campaign to improve driving standards taking in all manner of issues impacting everything from cars and vans to cyclists and even horses.

Owners of cars seized by the police have to pay a 'release fee' of up to £200 plus £20 a day in storage fees to have the vehicle returned.

Other offenders who have been caught and given traffic offence reports (TORs) can be fined, receive points on their licence or be asked to road safety courses.

In terms of taxis, Cllr Nick Peel, executive cabinet member for environmental services, says the council’s part in the clampdown was an effort to make passengers feel more secure and let drivers know they cannot get away with flaunting the rules.

“Passengers in Bolton have a right to feel safe and secure while travelling,” he said.

“A key part of that is ensuring all private hire vehicles meet required safety standards and display all appropriate livery and license information.

“There are a clear set of standards that we expect private hire drivers to follow and anyone who fails to meet these standards risks being suspended until the issue is rectified.”

Operation Considerate takes in a number of driving offences including everything from drink and drug driving to not wearing seatbelts, having incorrect tyre pressure or driving while using a phone.

In addition to the officers out on patrol, part of Operation Considerate involves collecting video evidence from the increasing number of dashcam clips that have been collected by drivers.

This footage often shows example of unlawful driving and police should be contacted within 72 hours of the incident taking place. Anyone who gets in touch is then sent an email with instructions on how to upload footage and is required to submit a statement and, if necessary, attend court.

To contact police about non-urgent motoring offences, call 101 or visit: www.gmp.police.uk.

05/03/2019

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axi driver hits out after receiving fine for using Fishergate bus lane - even though the sign says taxis are allowed

https://www.lep.co.uk/your-lancashire/p ... -1-9621916

Image

Image: Lancashire Post

A taxi driver is taking on Lancashire County Council after being fined for driving along Fishergate’s bus lane - even though the signs say taxis can.

Stephen Parkinson was taking a passenger home from Preston city centre when his private hire Kia Seat Estate was caught on the bus lane camera at 2.38pm on February 6.

Although the bus lane signs say taxis are allowed to use the lanes, Mr Parkinson said he has been told that this only applies to hackney carriages, also known as black cabs.

He must now pay £30 or face the fine rising to £90. If this is not paid within 28 days, then it becomes a civil legal matter.

Mr Parkinson, 54, of Freckleton, said: “The signage is not clear enough if that’s the case.

“I’m hoping to take this to the point where I get an independent adjudicator, because I won’t back down.

“I feel like it’s entrapment, it’s a money-making scheme, and I’m determined to take this up.

“They are stopping me taking up my duty as a private hire taxi driver. Why should it be any different for black cabs? It’s discrimination.

“I take a lot of older, frail people into town, or pick them up from the Post Office, and it’s easier for a lot of them to get in and out of a private hire vehicle.”

Image

Image: Lancashire Post

The council introduced the fines in autumn 2016 as part of the shared space makeover of Fishergate. No cars are allowed down between 11am to 6pm each day.

A Lancashire County Council spokesman said: “Department for Transport guidelines allow for the use of signs which specify exemptions for taxis.

“The drivers of these vehicles should be aware that there is a difference between the licences and regulations which apply to private hire vehicles and taxis.”

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05/03/2019

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Eastbourne taxi fares could be about to rise

https://www.eastbourneherald.co.uk/news ... -1-8833163

Taxi fares in Eastbourne could be set to rise if proposals gain the backing of borough councillors next week.

Next Monday (March 11), Eastbourne Borough Council’s licensing committee is to consider proposals to increase the maximum amount Hackney Carriages can charge in fares.

In a report to the committee, a council spokesman said: “The current fares set have been in place for ten years and the trade has requested a review of the current fare structure.

“There are currently 114 licensed Hackney Carriages that are allowed to ply for hire in Eastbourne. Fares charged by Hackney Carriages cannot be more than the fare set by Eastbourne Borough Council.

“Following informal requests made by some Hackney Carriage proprietors all Hackney Carriage proprietors were written to on February 1 2018 and asked to contact the licensing team to advise if they were in favour of a fare increase.

“It was made clear that should more than 50 per cent of the trade feel an increase is appropriate then a report would be presented to [the committee].

“The licensing team received 86 positive responses for an increase, which is a 76 per cent return.”

Taxi fares are set according to a rate card, which calculates the how much a journey will cost depending on how long the journey is and when it began.

For example, Eastbourne taxis can currently begin a journey between 6am and 11pm with a maximum of £2.60 on the meter, charging a maximum of £1.60 per mile for the first five miles and £2 for each mile afterwards.

If the increased fares are approved, taxis would be able to begin the same journey with £2.90 on the meter, charge a maximum of £2 per mile for the first five miles and £2.20 for each mile afterwards.

Other factors, such as time waiting and the number of people in the taxi, also add to the cost. Bank Holidays, Christmas and New Year are also charged at a different rate.

This rate card only applies to licensed Hackney Carriages, with pre-arranged private hires set without the council’s involvement.

Due to the complexity of this system, the average rate is usually presented as a two-mile fare when comparing it to other areas.

In Eastbourne this average fare currently comes to £5.70, which council officers say is the lowest fare charged within East Sussex.

If the increased charges are approved, the average two-mile fare in Eastbourne will cost £6.90 – the same average fare as set by Wealden District Council.

If given the backing of the licensing committee, the proposals will be decided by the council’s cabinet at a later date.

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5/03/2019

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Minicab drivers will go slow in Luton tomorrow morning in protest at “sweatshop conditions” working for Addison Lee

Minicab drivers will go slow in Luton tomorrow morning (Tuesday) in protest at “sweatshop conditions” working for Addison Lee.

The protest called by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain’s (IWGB) United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) branch will take place on Tuesday, March 5, starting by Luton Airport Roundabout, followed by a go slow drive over to Luton Council on George Street, and then a demonstration outside the council office, it will go on from 8am till 10.30am.

The drivers are calling on Luton Council to use the licensing powers to enforce legal workers rights of drivers.

Minicab drivers decry “sweatshop conditions” at Addison Lee, with their take home pay having fallen below minimum wage.

Analysis by the UPHD shows that Addison Lee drivers working often 70 hours or more per week earn little more than £1000, but after £270 in vehicle rent and 35% commission taken by Addison Lee are deducted, along with other associated costs such as fuel, drivers take home only around £225 per week in pay.

Drivers will demonstrate outside Luton Council, calling for the council to use powers as licensing authority to enforce workers’ rights.

Sohail Choudhary, Chair of the Luton UPHD branch, said: “Drivers such as myself working for Addison Lee at Luton Airport have been reduced to working in sweatshop conditions and yet we can barely scrape by. “The Council is the ultimate owner of Luton airport, benefiting from a lucrative contract that gives Addison Lee exclusive rights to operate at the airport, while having a responsibility as a licensing authority to ensure drivers like myself are not mistreated.

“It is a disgrace how Addison Lee treat their workers, and it is vital that Luton Council use their licensing powers and intervene to ensure our worker rights are protected.” The protest follows on from a protest at Luton Airport on Monday, February 4, where drivers protested the pay and conditions working for Addison Lee.

05/03/2019

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New rules blamed for dramatic slump in number of taxis on Shropshire roads

https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/tra ... ire-roads/

The number of taxis on county roads are declining because drivers can no longer afford to keep up with regulations imposed by Shropshire Council, it has been claimed today.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed the number of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles licensed in Shropshire over the last five years has fallen drastically.

The figures from the authority showed 1,295 private hire vehicles were licensed in Shropshire Council in 2014/15 compared to just 798 in 2018/19.

The council licensed 254 hackneys in 2014/15 and only 147 in 2018/19.

Drivers have said the rules enforced by Shropshire Council are making taxi driving financially unviable.

But Tim Higgins, owner of Higgins Taxis in Oswestry, said the proposals, which include introducing Euro 6 cars and wheelchair accessible vehicles for all hackneys by 2021, would kill the trade.

He said it will force drivers to either license in neighbouring authorities where the rules are not as stringent, or give up all together because they cannot afford a new car.

"Everywhere else in the country there is a growth in the taxi industry year on year," Mr Higgins said.

Purchasing

"But in Shropshire there has been a rapid decline since 2011. The biggest issue is the strict emissions policy."

Mr Higgins, who has been in the business for 30 years, said under the plans, anyone applying for a new license or renewing one will have to have a Euro 6 car which is a 2016 plate or newer.

"The problem is many drivers have still not recuperated the cost in purchasing the vehicle they had to when the council made everyone buy a Euro 6 car.

"The council is really not considering the impact it is going to have on Shropshire taxi drivers."

Nick Cox, of Oswestry Cabs, said he will be hit because, as a hackney driver the proposals mean he will have to purchase a wheelchair-friendly car.

He said he has spent £50,000 in the last three years on his two cars and cannot afford to buy new vehicles.

The Strategic Licensing Committee will discuss the plans on Wednesday at Shirehall.

05/03/2019

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Uber Revenue Growth Slows, Losses Persist as 2019 IPO Draws Near

Uber Technologies Inc.’s revenue growth slowed and losses persisted in the fourth quarter, casting a possible shadow over the ride-hailing giant as it prepares for a public offering this year.

Losses were down 15 percent for the full year over 2017, but still reached an adjusted $1.8 billion. That could pose a challenge to investors trying to figure out Uber’s value in the public markets. Last year, bankers vying to lead the company’s initial public offering told Uber the market could value it at $120 billion. News that the company is still burning through more than $1 billion annually may give some investors pause.

Like many unicorns, San Francisco-based Uber is emphasizing growth over profits. The company is investing aggressively in food delivery, logistics, electric bikes and self-driving cars. Last year, Uber bought Jump Bikes to help with its new mobility efforts, and it has a $1 billion budget for such projects this year.

Despite those investments, in the fourth quarter sales didn’t grow as fast as they have in the past. Of the $11.4 billion in net revenue the company generated in 2018, $3 billion came in the last three months of the year, up only 2 percent from the previous quarter. That puts the company’s year-over-year quarterly growth rate at 25 percent. That’s high by many standards, but significantly lower than Uber’s third quarter year-over-year growth of 38 percent -- a growth rate that was itself only about half the rate of six months prior.

16/02/19

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New taxi CCTV system could cost £320k to install

https://www.warringtonguardian.co.uk/ne ... o-install/

WARRINGTON Borough Council could fork out up to £320,000 to install the latest CCTV system in the town’s taxis.

Since June 2016, cabbies across the borough have been required to have cameras fitted in their vehicles to improve the safety of passengers and drivers.

But the issue has sparked major concerns, with some labelling the system as ‘intrusive’.

However, following discussions between the council and Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), since June, cabbies have had permission to temporarily deactivate the CCTV when their vehicle is in personal use.

And Warrington’s taxis will now be fitted with the latest system, which will give drivers the option to turn it off when their vehicle is being used for personal purposes, although it must be in operation at other times.

The capital investment is part of the authority’s commitment to work with the taxi trade to ensure the ‘highest standards of safeguarding’ are delivered for drivers and the public.

Around 600 vehicles in the town will be required to have the new system.

It is expected to cost the council between £300,000 and £320,000 in total.

Cllr Judith Guthrie, executive board member for environment and public protection, said: “We recognise the valuable public service Warrington’s taxis provide and we are committed to working closely with the trade to promote best practice and to improve standards.

“The security of taxi passengers and drivers is a high priority for us, so I’m pleased that we are one the local authorities leading the way in the introduction of CCTV.

“The use of this technology in taxis is a new and emerging area for councils and there have been some challenges in getting it right.

“We have listened to the concerns of the ICO and drivers around data protection and acted on the advice given.

“Safety is paramount and that’s why we have carried out rigorous research and invested in a high-quality system, which will fully meet the needs of Warrington’s taxi trade.

“This policy has been introduced in the best interests of the travelling public and responsible drivers and I’m confident that the new systems will strike the right balance between protecting drivers and the travelling public, while protecting the privacy of drivers when they are not on duty.”

Installation of the new system is expected to begin next month following the conclusion of the procurement exercise.

Council chief executive Steven Broomhead says the authority has been working closely with the taxi trade and thanked drivers.

He added: “We are seen to be one of key movers in terms of protecting the public and drivers.

“Many councils are coming to us for advice, including advice around compliance with the law and good relations with the ICO.”

12/02/19

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CCTV in all taxis to deter sex attacks

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cctv ... -t3gv2zx5k

A new crackdown will also feature tougher criminal record checks and a national database for drivers

Taxi owners will be forced to install CCTV cameras in their vehicles while the drivers will face tougher criminal record checks as part of a crackdown to combat sex attacks.

The new measures are the first in a series of sweeping reforms of the system which will see the government legislate to bring in minimum standards for all taxi and private-hire drivers.

The Department for Transport is also planning a national database to prevent drivers from working away from the area where they hold a licence.

The purge on rogue minicab drivers follows the publication of a government-backed review into the industry after a number of sexual exploitation scandals in towns such as Rotherham and Rochdale.

Taxi licensing officers in Rochdale were said to have warned that efforts to tackle sexual exploitation had been undermined by the number of drivers who were working under licences issued by neighbouring Rossendale council, where a “lower standard” was applied.

Rossendale renewed scores of taxi licences — without knowing about the drivers’ up-to-date criminal records — over a period of at least six months until the summer of 2016, according to reports.

The town, which had 75 taxi rank spaces, also licensed more than 3,700 drivers in 2017. Many of the drivers had been convicted of offences in areas such as York, Milton Keynes and Manchester.

The changes come after the controversy around John Worboys, the black-cab rapist who was jailed in 2009 for assaults on 12 women in London. In January last year the Parole Board said he would be freed, but victims challenged the decision. He remains in jail.

It was also revealed that Birmingham council had handed out licences to criminals with convictions for drug dealing, child abuse, assault and burglary.

A consultation on the statutory guidelines for all local authorities will be published this week.

Enforcement officers will be given the right to run compliance checks on any private-hire vehicle or taxi in its area, even if it is licensed in another.

The guidelines include a recommendation that all drivers should be required to undertake awareness training about child sexual abuse and exploitation.

All licensing authorities will be required to ensure drivers can pass a written and oral English test before getting a licence to make sure they can help any passenger in an emergency situation.

A government source said the proposals would offer greater protection to the public and “robust safeguards” for passengers.

Last year bodies representing taxi and private-hire drivers admitted the regulation of licences needed to be tougher for public safety after the Suzy Lamplugh Trust found more than 860 drivers in England and Wales had been granted licences despite having criminal convictions.

The Sunday Times has also revealed how Uber secretly investigated more than 2,500 of its London drivers for offences including sex assaults, stalking and dangerous driving, according to documents given to regulators.

12/02/19

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A few more cases from Bolton. Don't know if drivers there are particularly bad, or if just reported more in press, or wot. Suspect a bit of both.

Private hire driver who threatened wife with knife has licence revoked

A PRIVATE hire driver who admitted to threatening his wife with a knife has had his licence revoked.

The man appeared before Bolton Council's Licensing Committee after previously being charged and found guilty in court of two counts of criminal damage, two counts of beating, a threat to kill and actual bodily harm relating to an incident that occurred in July 2018.

He had received a two-year suspended sentence and 200 hours of community work for the offences and had also been the subject of 14 private hire complaints between September 19, 2017 and October 14, 2018.

The man admitted to the committee that the offences related to actions towards his wife, including revealing that he threatened her with a knife.

Police officers at the time considered the incident to be serious enough to remove the driver from the house where the offences occurred.

Committee members spoke of their concern that the driver would be working alone with passengers in an unsupervised setting and judged him to not be a "fit and proper person" to hold a licence.

His wife accompanied him to the hearing and admitted signing a police statement relating to the offences but later tried to retract her statements and said she exaggerated the situation.

However, the driver pleaded guilty to all of the charges and had even admitted to his actions during a police interview.

The committee concluded: "Passengers often travel alone and are vulnerable to inappropriate behaviour. The Sub-Committee’s primary duty is of concern for the safety and well-being of the public.

"There is therefore reasonable cause to revoke the private hire driver’s licence with immediate effect on the grounds of public safety, due to concerns of the violent nature of the offences and the use of a weapon."

The hearing, held in October 2018 was conducting by the Sub-Committee on Sensitive Cases and was not held in public, meaning the name of the driver cannot be revealed, however minutes from the hearing have since been made available.

Private hire driver who 'used his knees to steer' has licence revoked

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/17 ... e-revoked/

A DRIVER who “used his knees to steer” a private hire vehicle while carrying two primary school pupils has lost his licence.

He was not watching the road for most of the journey because he was too busy trying to sort out his e-cigarette, the Bolton’s licensing committee heard.

A primary school staff member who was with the two pupils told the council they were frightened by his poor driving, which led councillors to revoke his licence.

She said the vehicle was constantly veering onto the other side of the road and he had to slam the brakes on at roundabouts.

The driver denied driving with his knees and claimed he did not remember the customers, but councillors were told he had an accident in his vehicle which was his fault two months after the complaint was made.

He joins several other private hire drivers who have had their licences revoked at hearings held by councillors in the past few months following complaints, convictions and other concerns.

These hearings are held behind closed doors, which is why the drivers are not named, but some details appear on the council’s website after a decision is made.

Another driver, who had not paid his road tax, was given more than 500 jobs by his operator despite having his vehicle suspended months previously.

He was issued a vehicle suspension notice after failing to attend a mid-year test in October 2017, but by the following February he completed 413 jobs that had been allocated to him.

His private hire vehicle licence was revoked because he had breached the conditions of his licences.

The committee also said he “clearly has a disregard for licensing regimes”.

At the same meeting in December, a driver was refused a private hire vehicle licence because the committee was concerned about the applicant’s speeding record.

He had three speeding convictions resulting in nine penalty points all in the space of 13 months.

At another meeting on January 8, a licence was revoked after a driver was convicted for picking up customers illegally.

He was plying for hire without a hackney carriage proprietor’s licence in a vehicle which was uninsured against third party risks.

Two unbooked passengers got into his vehicle and were charged £15, but when he was stopped by the police, he told them that the passengers were friends.

His licence was revoked because of the nature of his conviction which he failed to declare the offence to the council.

10/02/19

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Bolton Council refuse private hire licence after kidnapping past revealed

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/17 ... -revealed/

A MAN charged for kidnapping more than a decade ago has been refused a taxi driver's licence.

He was arrested and charged for kidnapping and wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm in 2007 but failed to declare this on his application form.

The applicant denied the version of events presented to the council but was aware that the victim had been hurt and put in a van.

He claimed that the only role he played was to try to calm the victim.

However, the licensing committee did not find this to be credible and found inconsistencies in the man's evidence.

The kidnapping victim provided a statement which was subsequently withdrawn, although he said that the content of his statement was true.

Police told the council that the applicant is not a fit and proper person to hold a private hire driver's licence.

The committee were also concerned that the applicant had been involved in a violent and very serious event.

The application was considered at a licensing and environmental regulation committee meeting on December 11 which was chaired by Cllr Madeline Murray and lasted almost five hours.

It was raised at the meeting by the Director of Place because the applicant had a previous misconduct matter.

The man in question attended the meeting and provided verbal evidence.

The committee also heard evidence from a licensing officer.

Councillors Nick Peel and Martin Donaghy suggested refusing the licence and the other 11 councillors agreed.

The committee noted: "Members of the public, the elderly, infirm and children or vulnerable adults entrust their personal safety and wellbeing to private hire drivers whenever they take a journey. Passengers often travel alone and are vulnerable to inappropriate behaviour.

"The committee’s primary duty is of concern for the safety and wellbeing of the public.

"There is therefore reasonable cause to refuse to grant the private hire drivers licence."

01/02/2019

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North-east's only lady taxi firm, that 'doesn't do late, and where 'customers become friends'

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/tees ... i-15760930

Meet Amanda and Sue, the North East's only lady taxi firm

Image

Image: Gazette Live

Amanda and Sue Poulsom-Carver quit their taxi jobs ten years ago to become the North East's only lady taxi firm - and they have never looked back.

The couple has built up a list of regular customers with their firm, Lingdale Travel.

They don't do 'the nightclubs' or even late night fares - and they don't overbook.

Customers have even been known to plan their own holidays around when Sue and Amanda are available, rather than have another company drive them.

They even escort older customers in for their hospital appointments and carry their shopping.

And with jobs in the diary into 2020, they must be doing something right.

Amanda, 36, says the company does a lot of airport runs and calls from husbands who want to make sure their wives are okay.

And while they do drive men, they find it's mostly women booking their service.

The safety measures they insist on making means they have never had any trouble from dodgy passengers - or feel intimidated.

Sue, 48, and Amanda met through work when they were both employed by JP Taxis.

Amanda said: "People were saying how nice it was to have a lady driver - including the guys.

"We get a lot of guys who phone up with airport bookings and lads who go away for a weekend stag do in Amsterdam or whatever.

"It goes back to reliability, especially from a mother or father's point of view booking taxis for their daughters or sons.

"It's peace of mind.

"We are not sexist, we are not saying the guys don't do a good job.

"It's psychological. People feel safer if it's a lady driver."

Image

Image: Gazette Live

The pair have built up a loyal client base over the years.

"Customers have turned into friends," Amanda adds, "you get chatting about personal things, they tell you stuff.

"There's a bond, it's really nice.

"We don't do late.

"But if someone books us at 6am, we are there at 10 to, ready whenever they are.

"Sue did have a runner a few months back, but it was the first one in 18 years.

"We are careful, for the safety of ourselves as well as our passengers.

"Our phone rang at 2.34 this morning.

"The last thing I want to do is answer that call and go out; you don't know who you are picking up.

"We don't take too much on, we need our own time as well as the business needs time."

Sue said: "We drive lots of older ladies and do airport runs.

"We go to Gatwick, Glasgow, all over.

"There was nothing in Lingdale and East Cleveland at the time we wanted to set up.

"When we got our licence, the people at the court were chuffed to bits we were going to be a ladies only taxi firm.

"We didn't want to be a run of the mill taxi company.

"It's a very personal service.

"Lots of customers ring to book us for holidays and if we're not available, they will change their own holidays."

03/02/2019

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Chichester Railway Station taxi rank to be scrapped to create more car parking spaces

https://www.chichester.co.uk/news/polit ... -1-8792092

Extra parking spaces will soon become available at Chichester Railway Station but taxi drivers will now have to share one rank, it has been confirmed this week.

Southern Railway confirmed the decision by Network Rail to resurface both of the station car parks 'as part of a programme covering over 30 Southern stations'.

A spokesman said: "At Chichester there has been high demand from our passengers for more parking, pick-up and drop-off spaces, so we are taking the opportunity to reconfigure the smaller car park on the south side, and to create still more space by consolidating the two taxi ranks into one on the north side.

"Network Rail's business tenants will also benefit from new dedicated bays."

'Number of permits to be reduced with immediate effect'

The statement comes after current and previous taxi permit holders were contacted by email 'with advance notice of these changes', citing the 'permanent removal of the rank on the Southside car park'.

The email added: "The car park areas will be resurfaced from February 11 and the rank on that side of the station will be replaced by much-needed parking spaces.

"The Chichester Station taxi rank will therefore only be operated from the northern car park/station front. As a result of this change and following a review of the operation at the station, we will be reducing the number of permits available for sale with immediate effect."

The taxi ranks at the station are situated on land owned by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which employs company Saba UK, previously known as Indigo, to operate all the ranks outside its stations.

In a statement to the Observer, the Southern spokesman said: "Only permit holders will have access to the rank, and some permits are still available on a first-come first served basis. Access will be managed by an Automatic Number Plate Recognition System, which will cover only the taxi rank, not the car parks."

'Permit holders will be supported'

According to the email sent out by Saba UK, on behalf of GTR, the automatic number plate recognition system will 'assist in the rank management' and to 'support those who have purchased permits and who are operating within the process'.

"Failure to purchase and display a valid permit will result in postal penalty notices being issued (£100 per penalty/per day)," the email warned.

When asked to comment on its involvement in the changes, Chichester District Council said its responsibility, as a licensing authority, is to 'ensure that hackney carriages are safe for the public to use'.

A spokesman added: "This includes ensuring that drivers are displaying the right signs, drivers are fit and proper to operate and ensuring drivers are updated regarding changes in regulations and safety information.

"Because we do not own the land, the way the ranks are being reorganised does not fall under our control. Each driver would have to apply to Indigo for a permit which allows them to wait on the rank.”

02/02/2019

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Bolton taxi driver loses licence after grooming and assault allegations

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/17 ... legations/

A TAXI driver accused of grooming a 15-year-old girl and assaulting his wife has lost his licence.

He allegedly sent a number of Facebook messages to the young girl in an attempt to groom her for sex in 2015 and was arrested following a police investigation.

He was also arrested for an assault on his wife in 2010 but no subsequent action was taken by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The driver, described as a “sexual predator”, wanted to renew his private hire driver’s licence but was turned down by Bolton Council.

He tried to use his children’s disability and his wife’s depression in his defence but this was given limited weight.

The licensing sub-committee considered the application following a series of complaints against him for inappropriate behaviour.

A complaint was received in June claimed that he was abusive towards his wife who was aware he had been “messing about with kids”.

This incident resulted in an argument and the police were called but they let him go.

The complainant further added that the wife did not feel she could report him for domestic violence as he would hit her more.

The man denied the grooming offence even though photos of the 15-year-old girl were found in his phone showing contact had been made ­– although messages had been deleted.

He denied contacting her more than three years ago, but the committee did not find this credible.

He also denied using Facebook altogether, claiming he may have been hacked, even though he had previously indicated that he used Facebook on route with the police to the Bolton Custody Suite.

Police suspect that he deliberately discarded his phone in the bathroom of a private address following arrest but lied by saying he had lost it the day before.

The phone number was checked against documentation from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and confirmed it was the same number.

The decision not to renew the licence was made at a licensing sub-committee meeting on October 26 which the man, his wife and his solicitor attended.

His wife admitted ringing the police but denied feeling threatened which the sub-committee did not find credible.

The sub-committee also heard verbal evidence from the licensing officer.

It was established that he failed to declare the arrests in three previous declaration forms in accordance with the conditions of his licence.

The meeting, which was chaired by Cllr Madeline Murray, lasted four hours.

Councillors Hilary Fairclough, David Greenhalgh, Susan Haworth and Debbie Newall also attended the meeting.

The sub-committee noted: "Members of the public and in particular, the elderly, infirm and children or vulnerable adults entrust their personal safety and wellbeing to private hire drivers whenever they take a journey. Passengers often travel alone and are vulnerable to inappropriate behaviour.

"The Sub- Committee’s primary duty is of concern for the safety and well-being of the public.

"There is therefore reasonable cause to refuse to renew the private hire driver’s licence."

Top 

01/02//2019

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Watford Uber driver fined after he falsely claimed benefits

A fraudster Uber driver failed to reveal he was a taxi driver when he claimed benefits.

Murat Coker, from The Turnstones, in Watford, has been ordered to pay £619 for falsely claiming benefits.

He didn’t tell Watford Borough Council that he had a Transport for London taxi licence and had been an Uber driver since 2015.

Fraud investigators from the council made checks through the National Fraud Initiative after they discovered Coker had not been honest in his application.

On May 11 last year, Coker was interviewed under caution where he admitted to falsely claiming £2,355 in benefits. He pleaded guilty to one charge under the Fraud Act 2006 at St Albans Magistrates Court.

He received a financial penalty of £335, as well as costs of £284 for prosecution and victim surcharge. Arrangements are being made to pay the benefits back.

Peter Taylor, Elected Mayor of Watford, said: “Our consistent success in prosecuting benefit fraud sends a clear message that it will not be tolerated. It is a great example of how we ensure money is not taken illegally out of the public purse.”

01/02/2019

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High Court Quashes Wakefield Taxi Licence Fees

https://licensing-lawyer.co.uk/licence-fees/

There is no general rule of full recovery of the cost of administration of licence regimes. The power to set taxi licence fees, and the extent of such power, is limited by the words of the LGMPA 1976.

The High Court has quashed the licence fees charged for private hire vehicle and hackney carriage licences set by Wakefield City Council, following a claim for judicial review by the Wakefield District Private Hire and Hackney Association.

His Honour Judge Saffman, sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court, held that the fees charged by Wakefield were unlawful. In particular, the Council had wrongly interpreted section 70 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and had erroneously charged the costs of enforcement against drivers (for speeding, bad parking, dressing inappropriately and a miscellany of uncivil or illegal conduct) to the control and supervision of vehicles. Wakefield’s case had been that the costs were properly accounted for against vehicles because the errant drivers were driving vehicles. The learned judge described that as ‘stretching beyond breaking point’ the language of the section.

The case is of wider importance as it dispels any suggestion that there is a general principle of law that licensing regimes should be self-financing. The judge made it clear that a local authority’s entitlement to recover from the licence fee the costs of administering a licensing regime is governed by the words of the empowering statute. Where Parliament has awarded local authorities a broad discretion to set such licence fees “as they think reasonable”, the courts have upheld policies of full cost recovery on the ground that the policies, being reasonable, are intra vires; but where, as in s 70 LGMPA 1976, the power to charge a fee is circumscribed by reference to specific heads of recovery, recovery is restricted to those specified heads. Licensing authorities are creatures of statute, and have no powers beyond those which statute has given them.

In the course of the High Court action it became apparent that Wakefield Council has overcharged private hire vehicle licence fees by an aggregate sum in excess of £1million, which will form the subject of a claim for restitution.

Gerald Gouriet QC and Charles Streeten acted for the successful claimant, with the assistance of A2Z licensing.

The relevant part seems to be s70(1):

70 Fees for vehicle and operators’ licences.

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, a district council may charge such fees for the grant of vehicle and operators’ licences as may be resolved by them from time to time and as may be sufficient in the aggregate to cover in whole or in part—

(a) the reasonable cost of the carrying out by or on behalf of the district council of inspections of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles for the purpose of determining whether any such licence should be granted or renewed;

(b) the reasonable cost of providing hackney carriage stands; and

(c) any reasonable administrative or other costs in connection with the foregoing and with the control and supervision of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1976/57/section/70

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Private hire driver called parking warden 'f****** b****' in front of shocked passengers

https://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/172 ... assengers/

A PRIVATE hire driver who shouted verbal abuse at a female parking warden who gave him a ticket has had his licence suspended.

At around 2.30pm on October 23 Gulniaz Khan was dropping off six passengers on West George Street when he was given a ticket for parking on double yellow lines.

When issued with the fine he jumped out of his car and called the woman a f****** b****. The woman was wearing a body camera.

Mr Khan was brought before Glasgow City Council’s licensing board yesterday to explain his actions.

He said: “I was dropping off six passengers and had to pull-in at the double yellow lines.

"The warden gave me a ticket and I got out of my vehicle to challenge her.

“I was informed this was a bus stop but I told her I was not parking, I was just dropping off passengers.

"I would like to apologise for calling her a b****.

“I shouldn’t have said that and I do regret it. I have had a private hire car driver’s licence since 2007 and have never been here before.”

Councillor John Kane said: “Your behaviour towards this parking attendant is totally unacceptable.

"You used language which I am not going to repeat.

“I am concerned about your behaviour and the way you treated this female employee.”

Councillor Gary Gray added: “You have been driving since 2007. I cannot for the life of me understand why you would conduct yourself in this manner.”

Mr Khan said: “The lady was not doing her job properly.”

Mr Gray asked: “How do you know this?”

Mr Khan responded: “There is no parking there for taxi drivers. She didn’t put the ticket in a plastic bag.

"That is what annoyed me at the time.”

The committee decided to suspend Mr Khan’s licence for one week.

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Private hire drivers' plea to use Blackburn with Darwen bus lanes turned down

https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/n ... rned-down/

A PLEA from private hire taxi drivers to be allowed to use bus lanes was knocked back.

A group representing drivers across the borough petitioned Blackburn with Darwen Council asking for permission to use the bus lanes.

The petition also asked the council to consider creating passenger pick-up and drop-off points for private hire drivers.

They want similar privileges to Hackney carriage drivers who can use bus lanes to boost trade by cutting time spent in traffic jams.

Council bosses say they considered carefully the restrictions relating to the bus lanes as part of the Pennine Reach £40m major transport scheme, funded by the council and the Department for Transport.

But as it is a Department for Transport scheme, rules state major changes cannot be made for up to 10 years.

A spokesman for private hire drivers said: “We would like you to allow taxis to use the bus lanes and consider taxis as a form of public transport.

“It is very noticeable that the lanes are empty for the majority of time with so few buses.

“By allowing the taxi trade to use bus lanes it would allow customers a better incentive and an alternative to using their own cars. It would also encourage sharing for common journeys.

“The taxi trade is targeted by over-zealous traffic wardens.

“In many instances we are transporting older people or people who can’t drive or use buses. Surely this is an important service to the council as it brings trade into the town and also helps prevent older people becoming housebound or isolated.”

The petition also asked for the council to work closely with drivers and operators to protect the public.

The spokesman added: “There have been many negative stories from other towns. We want to ensure the taxi trade in Blackburn with Darwen is seen as a reliable, trusted and safe trade. One which customers are confident in using where we give the best service.

“In order for us to do this we believe the council has to start to work with the trade.”

Principal licensing officer Donna Riding said: “In terms of bus lane effectiveness there has to be a balance drawn between allowing additional vehicles to use the bus lanes and the benefits derived for the purpose they were intended for.

“The larger the number of vehicles allowed in, the lower the lane’s effectiveness for buses, which can carry significantly higher numbers of passengers per vehicle than motor cars.

“The usage of bus lanes does vary according to peak demands, time of day and geographic location, but are not underused as suggested.

“There is also an issue relating to the design of traffic light signals systems where virtual bus gates are in operation. The signals system at these lights look at the length of vehicles and will not fire traffic lights where there is a bus gate, which would present problems. The taxi forum is the arena where all these ideas can be discussed.

“In response to the requests made in the petition, safeguarding awareness training is currently provided to all new drivers and was delivered to all existing drivers last year.

“We are awaiting national guidance that is being drafted in relation to council run in-car CCTV systems.

“Once this is issued it will be brought back to the taxi forum for discussion. Most operators in the borough are using GPS tracking systems.”

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Abuse scandals prompt rogue cabbie crackdown

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/abus ... -x956hm292

A purge on rogue minicab drivers will be launched after the child exploitation scandals in towns such as Rochdale and Rotherham.

The Times understands that new legislation will create national standards to improve passenger safety. The Department for Transport (DfT) is also planning to prevent drivers from working away from the area where they hold a licence. Other measures may include setting up a database of drivers whose licences have been refused or revoked, and compulsory CCTV cameras.

It follows the publication of a government-backed review into the industry after a number of sexual exploitation scandals involving young girls being groomed, and in which minicab and taxi drivers were heavily implicated.

The report warned that existing laws governing the industry were “inconsistent, ineffective and incompatible with the protection of vulnerable people and must not be allowed to continue”.

The inquiry, led by Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq of Bolton University, told how the licensing of cars and individual drivers was devolved to 293 separate councils in England, with “significant variation in both policy and practice”. There has been a big rise in taxis and minicabs licensed in England, with vehicles increasing by 26 per cent between 2011 and last year to a record 281,000. The vast majority were minicabs, which have to be booked and cannot be hailed on the street.

Licensing officers in Rochdale were said to have warned that efforts to tackle sexual exploitation had been undermined by the number of drivers working under licences issued by neighbouring Rossendale council, where a “lower standard” was applied.

An investigation by The Times this year found that for at least six months until the summer of 2016 Rossendale renewed scores of taxi licences without knowing drivers’ up-to-date criminal records. The town, which had 75 taxi rank spaces, licensed more than 3,700 drivers last year, with drivers convicted of offences in areas such as York, Milton Keynes and Manchester.

It was also revealed that Birmingham council handed out licences to criminals with convictions for drug dealing, child abuse, assault and burglary.

DfT sources said that the government would work on plans to “cut the number of drivers operating miles away from where they are licensed”. The report called for legislation to ensure that all journeys should start or end in the area where the driver or vehicle was licensed. A database of drivers whose licences have been refused or revoked, a system developed by the Local Government Association, will be made mandatory for all councils.

A DfT source said: “We have seen too many examples where taxi and minicab drivers have been able to use their job to prey on vulnerable people, especially women and girls. Some local authorities have shown they have lower standards and are being exploited by drivers. The government will step in to make sure higher standards are applied across the country to ensure the people driving these vehicles are fit to do so.”

Top Profile   

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Taxi driver who lost his job and licence after being accused of sex attack on passenger in Paisley CLEARED after she admits lying to cops

https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/3 ... r-paisley/

Nerbert Tumwesigye was said to have sexually assaulted the woman in a car park after dropping her off following a festive night out with her family

A TAXI driver who lost his licence and his job after being accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a car park has been cleared of all wrongdoing after she admitted lying about it.

Nerbert Tumwesigye was said to have abused the woman, who can’t be named for legal reasons, after dropping her off following a festive night out with her family.

The woman, 27, claimed he had sexually assaulted her by putting his hands on her face, kissing her on the mouth and putting his tongue in her mouth without consent.

She told police probing the incident that it took place in a car park in Thornly Park Gardens, Paisley, on January 2 this year.

Tumwesigye, 37, denied breaking Section 3 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 by sexually assaulting her against her will and went on trial over the claims at Paisley Sheriff Court.

She told the court she “began to feel slightly uncomfortable” the minute she got in to the taxi, because it she was herself and it was night time and dark.

But in her police statement, which was read to the court, she said she chatted with him when she got in to his cab.

She also said in evidence that she only had one glass of wine on the night in question, however, she told officers she’d had at least four glasses of wine – and had given the driver her full name.

She admitted giving different versions of events but said it was “an honest mistake”.

Her mother, 58, also gave evidence, telling the court she received a phone call from her where she was “crying down the phone.”

She added: “She was pretty distraught. She was definitely very, very upset. She said she’d been assaulted. She did mention she’d been kissed by the taxi driver.

“She phoned in terrible distress, I had to get to her – I had no option.”

The mother said she rushed to her daughter’s home – where she was “crying and blaming herself” – and that she “comforted her.”

Tumwesigye, who moved to Scotland in 2010, gave evidence in his own defence, saying he had helped his accuser both in and out of the taxi after noticing her struggling to walk and nearly tripping on her way to his cab.

He explained that she tried to kiss him as he helped her out of the car but that he pulled away as he is married.

He said: “She didn’t want to leave the car, she was chatting, chatting. I wanted to get her out the car – I had been given another job at the airport. She tried to kiss me.”

He added that he’d had his taxi license suspended over the claim.

Sheriff Frances McCartney found him not guilty, saying she didn’t believe his accuser.

An East Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said Tumwesigye could apply to get his licence back.

16/10/2018

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Bid to use taxi drivers and door staff to boost hate crime crackdown

https://www.itv.com/news/2018-10-15/bid ... crackdown/

Taxi drivers and door staff will be given guidance on spotting hate crime under a new Government clampdown.

On Tuesday ministers will publish a refreshed strategy aimed at improving the response to and raising awareness of offences that target a victim because of personal characteristics such as race, religion or sexual orientation.

The blueprint includes steps designed to ensure that taxi and private hire vehicle drivers identify and report hate crime in the night-time economy.

Advice will be included in the Department for Transport’s best practice guidance on taxi and private hire vehicle licensing, which is scheduled to be updated in 2019 and will be considered for adoption by all 293 licensing authorities in England, the document says.

It also notes that new guidance for door supervisors sets out how they can ensure transgender people can have a safe and enjoyable time going to pubs, clubs, festivals and events.

In another step, the Law Commission will carry out a review into hate crime to explore how to make current legislation more effective and consider if there should be additional protected characteristics to cover offences motivated by misogyny or ageism.

The updated action plan is being published as the Home Office releases the latest annual statistics on hate crime in England and Wales.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Hate crime goes directly against the long-standing British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect – and I am committed to stamping this sickening behaviour out.

“Our refreshed action plan sets out how we will tackle the root causes of prejudice and racism, support hate crime victims and ensure offenders face the full force of the law.”

Spikes in reports of hate offences have been registered following events such as the Brexit vote in June 2016 and the Westminster terror attack last year.

There were 80,393 hate crimes recorded by police in England and Wales in 2016/17, an increase of 29% compared with 2015/16.

Hate crimes and incidents are defined as those perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic.

Five strands are monitored centrally: race or ethnicity; religion or beliefs; sexual orientation; disability; and transgender identity.

Some forces log other types of hostility under the hate crime heading, including reports of misogyny and incidents where victims were targeted because of their age or membership of an “alternative sub-culture”, such as goths.

The new action plan says there has been a “welcome increase” in reporting, reflecting improved identification of hate crime by the police, willingness of victims to come forward and an overall improvement in crime recording.

The increase in reporting is also thought to reflect a genuine rise in hate crime around specific events, the document says, adding: “We continue to see a gap between the occurrence of, and reporting of, hate crime.”

Other new measures include a nationwide public awareness campaign, extra funding to support communities and specialist training for police call handlers.

The Government is also set to unveil proposals for future legislation to tackle illegal and harmful online content.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: “It is completely unacceptable that anyone should live in fear of intimidation and violence because of their beliefs or the colour of their skin.

“We must challenge prejudice and intolerance, whenever and wherever it appears in our society.”

Gary FitzGerald, chief executive of charity Action on Elder Abuse, said: “We welcome today’s announcement that a review into hate crime legislation will consider the need for elder abuse to become an aggravated offence.

“Frankly, such a step is long overdue. Older people are being neglected and abused physically, financially, psychologically and sexually across the country every day.

“But the number of convictions for these crimes is tiny and, even when someone is found guilty, they often escape with flimsy sentences and paltry fines that do nothing to deter would-be abusers.”

16/10/2018

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Taxi drivers to face stricter regulation

https://www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk/news ... -1-9397211

Taxi drivers in Wakefield convicted of a motoring offence could find it harder to get their licence back under new plans.

Councils across West Yorkshire and in York are trying to create a single set of rules for cabbies, in a bid to ensure regulation is the same all over the region.

In August it was revealed that a total of 21 drivers in Wakefield have lost their licence because of a criminal conviction since 2014.

Nearly two thirds of those were for driving offences.

Although cabbies do not lose their licence automatically if they offend, they must inform the local authority if they've been prosecuted. The council then judges each case on its merits.

Now drivers may be forced to wait longer to get their right to trade back if their crime is driving-related, though a length of time has not been specified.

In papers to be discussed by Wakefield Council's licensing committee next week, a report on the issue says: "The main difference between the current convictions policy and that proposed is a stricter approach to motoring convictions, with longer periods required before applicants/licence holders can be considered 'fit and proper'.

"Proposals on driver training see the introduction of refresher training and a test for safeguarding awareness."

If the proposals are backed by councillors, an eight-week consultation process with drivers and the travelling public will start.

The papers suggest that the cost of obtaining a licence, which has been a long-standing grievance for cabbies in Wakefield, may change depending on whether or not more or fewer applications are made.

The report adds: "Changes to policy may have an impact on the number of individuals who wish to and are eligible to hold a Wakefield taxi driver licence."

Any significant changes to the number of licence holders could potentially influence the future cost of service/ income from fees.

"This position will continue to be monitored annually and reported as appropriate."

Concerns were raised earlier this year that drivers from Wakefield and elsewhere were travelling to Wolverhampton to obtain their licence, because their rules were felt to be less strict.

A 2015 law change means that cabbies can work and live anywhere in the UK with one licence from any local authority.

BBC figures show that Wolverhampton Council issued more than twice the number of private hire licences of any other local authority between March 2015 and March 2017.

In July, one driver was refused a licence renewal by Wakefield Council, though the public were barred from attending the meeting.

The local authority has subsequently refused to specify why the application was rejected.

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16/10/2018

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LAST year Bolton Council suspended 34 taxi licences, revoked 19, and refused to renew eight. Local democracy reporter NICK STATHAM finds out why and what measures are being taken to tighten up private hire and hackney carriage licensing.

THERE are currently more than 1,800 licensed taxi drivers in Bolton and while the majority of journeys are completed safely and professionally, there are also cases of overcharging, sexually inappropriate behaviour and violence from those behind the wheel.

When these are reported the question of whether the driver remains “a fit and proper person” to hold either a private hire or hackney carriage licence goes before Bolton Council’s licensing and environmental regulation committee — or the traffic offences sub-committee for less serious matters.

The hearings are held behind closed doors, but the minutes which later appear on the council’s website reveal how far some drivers stray from the standards expected of them.

Earlier this month a taxi driver was stripped of his private hire licence after licensing chiefs heard he had threatened a member of the public with a screwdriver. He also had an undeclared conviction for common assault.

Back in July another driver had his licence revoked after taking a lone female passenger home “via a long route through dark streets” during which he asked her personal questions the left her feeling “scared, uncomfortable and panicked”. He later tried to contact the woman via her Instagram account.

And in June Perez Sajid was suspended for five weeks by council licensing chiefs after being found guilty of overcharging a disabled passenger at Bolton Magistrates Court.

Figures provided by Bolton Council make clear the measures the licensing committee is taking to ensure people can be confident of their own safety when they get into a taxi or private hire vehicle.

Last year the authority suspended 34, revoked 19, and refused to renew eight licences. It also issued one warning. The number of licensed drivers fluctuates throughout the year, but the current number is 1,850, which gives an indication of the proportion who are breaching the trust placed in them by passengers.

And of the 212 applications for new licences it refused 12 – just under six per cent of those received.

When taxi drivers first apply for a private hire or hackney carriage licence a check is made to see if they have a criminal record through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

This is repeated when they are renewed every 12 months and police also inform licensing chiefs of relevant intelligence throughout the year.

But Cllr Nick Peel, the council’s environmental services chief who sits on the licensing panel, said he was happy that the authority had a “fair but robust system”.

He added: “In any profession there’s always going to be a minority of bad eggs, but the main thing is taxi drivers are in a very, very privileged position of trust.

“That’s why it’s so important that the drivers are “fit and proper” to carry out what I would describe as a unique privilege.

“Where else would you get a stranger alone with a vulnerable person, or a child? It would be hard to find another example so, for that reason, we don’t tolerate anything that looks like inappropriate behaviour.”

Cllr Peel added that council figures show there are no issues with the “overwhelming majority” of drivers but licensing chiefs were willing to take strong action where required.

He said: “We will refuse applications if standards are not met and we will also revoke or suspend licences of drivers found to be breaking the law or breaching licensing requirements.

"The safety of the public is of paramount importance to us and this is at the heart of our licensing duties.”

Taxi drivers staged a protest this year over what they described as “unfair” licensing rulings, which took cabbies off the road for minor or historical offences.

But Cllr Peel said the panel looked at patterns and frequencies of offences, as well as their seriousness when reaching a decision.

He said: “We would like to reassure the public we will continue to take action and if they have concerns about drivers they can report these to us.

“Similarly if a driver is unhappy with any decision they have the right of appeal to both Bolton Magistrates and Crown Courts.”

16/10/2018

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Taxi drivers to strike for better pay and conditions from Uber

https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/not ... ay-2086049

'They call us partners but do not understand the meaning of the word'

Taxi drivers are set to go on strike to demand better pay and better working conditions from Uber.

The strike has been called by the United Private Hire Drivers union and will start on Tuesday, October 9.

It will last 24 hours, from 1pm until 1pm on Wednesday, October 10, and involve a rally outside the company's Nottingham headquarters in King Edward Court in the city centre.

According to the local branch chairman, Azeem Hanif, of Basford, the aim is to get better pay, keep more of their share and be treated better by the tech giant.

Image

Private hire driver Azeem Hanif, 47, from Basford, is the chairman of United Private Hire Drivers (Image: Nottingham Post

The 46-year-old, who has worked for Uber for three years, said: "They treat us with contempt - they call us partners but do not understand the meaning of the word. They treat us as disposable.

"Our message to customers is help us to get what we would like as our basic rights as workers. The prices are still going to be low but we are currently in a vulnerable position."

The strike has four aims.

Firstly, the union would like to see the fare raise to £2 per mile, with Mr Hanif claiming it is currently £1.20. Although he accepted this would mean a rise in the price for the customer, he believed Uber could bring it to this level and still remain cheaper than its competitors as the gap is currently so big.

The fare is the money that goes to the driver, as the booking fee is taken by Uber to pay for insurance and safety fees.

But from this fare a commission is taken by the company - as much as 25 percent, according to Mr Hanif - to pay for everything from the marketing to the administration. This brings the hourly wage below the legal minimum, he claims.

The union wants to see this commission brought down to 15 percent.

Mr Hanif said drivers with other companies earn at least £2 an hour without having to pay a commission - but some are having to join Uber because Uber is taking customers from other companies.

Another union aim to end what it describes as "unfair dismissals". Mr Hanif said there have been a number of examples of this in the city, where a driver is suspended after a customer complaint and is not asked to put their side of the story across.

Finally they want to be treated "with respect" as if they were full-time employees, with benefits such as holidays, and a reduction in the number of drivers employed (between 700 and 900 in the city, Mr Hanif calculates), which means some struggle to get jobs.

It is not clear how many taxis will take part in the protest but Mr Hanif hopes drivers from other companies will join in solidarity with them.

Similar protests will be held in London and Birmingham.

A spokesman for Uber said: “We are always looking to make improvements to ensure drivers have the best possible experience and can make the most of their time driving on the app.

"That's why over the last few months we’ve introduced dozens of new features, including sickness, injury, maternity and paternity protections.

"We continue to look at ways to help drivers increase their earnings and our door is always open if anyone wants to speak to us about any issues they're having.”

He added the benefits of Uber were that drivers were not tied to a minimum amount of work.

08/09/2018

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'We are not getting value for money’ say angry taxi drivers

https://www.sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk/ne ... -1-9384338

Taxi drivers across Sheffield have spoken out about the ‘poor’ service provided by Sheffield City Council ‘s licensing department amid proposals to raise fees.

The council's licensing department have proposed to raise fees for taxi drivers for the third time in four years.

Stephen Lonnia, chief licensing officer, proposed raising the cost of renewing taxi licenses from £163 to £173 for the rest of the year.

But across Sheffield drivers have objected, saying while fees have risen, quality in service has declined.

Ibrar Hussain, GMB union rep, attended a licensing committee meeting where the fees were being discussed.

He said: “The whole trade has objected. It’s an extra burden of cost and no one likes things going up but I wouldn’t mind paying extra if we got a better service. We should get what we pay for: a good quality, prompt and correct service. They make too many mistakes that cost our members daily.”

In total, there has been an increase of £20 in the past four years but no increase in the last two.

Mr Lonnia admitted the licensing team was not up to scratch and added they have problems with staffing, especially with the enforcement team.

He said: “I think the level of service has gone down. There have been silly mistakes. We all make mistakes when dealing with paperwork, but I do agree with the trade that if they are paying more then they should get a better service.

“If we are to deliver that better service we need more staff – there’ s a lot of pressure on staff and they are rushing to get things done. But, obviously, if we have more staff it will increase the costs. So it’s a double-edged sword.

"We would also like to do more enforcement to support the people who are licensed because we do have problems with out-of-town vehicles, unlicensed drivers and drivers parking in the wrong place.

"We currently have eight officers but need at least 12 to do a really good job. So there’s lots of issues but unless you can get more staff out there those issues aren’t going to go away.”

Mr Lonnia said the total cost of licensing taxis is £826,000. He explained they work out the fees by totalling the costs of the service and balancing that with income.

He put the increases down to more work and rises in other expenses. He said: “Staffing costs have increased by £60,000 over four years and the coss of materials and photocopying goes up every year. So we have to increase the income.’’

The decision on whether to approve the fee hike was deferred for further discussion to take place.

08/09/2018

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Man caught with pants down after picking up a prostitute gets cab licence

https://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/169 ... s-licence/

A MAN caught with his trousers down during a prostitution sting has been allowed to start work as a cabbie.

Police officers watched Mohammed Nasir Ashgari pick up the vulnerable woman on Brown Street in the city centre before taking her to an open-air supermarket car park.

The computer repair shop worker was arrested after cops found him in the driver’s seat of his car with his trousers at his ankles.

The incident happened on June 21, 2016, and Mr Ashgari was admonished at Glasgow Sheriff Court last year.

Glasgow’s licensing committee gave him permission to work as a private hire cab driver despite concerns over the safety of potential customers.

He told the committee: “I’m very ashamed that I did that. I’ve never done anything like that before or since.

“At the time of the incident I was just going home.

“When I took the girl to the car park in Tesco she asked for money for sex and I declined but then I changed my mind. I don’t know why.”

When asked about his motive for changing careers, and whether he was likely to re-offend, he added: “There is no way I would take advantage of women that get into my car.

“The reason that I want to be a cab driver is that I’m taking a gap year and going to university next year.

“I want to earn a bit of money, so I’ll be able to focus on my studies. This will give me more flexibility.”

Licensing committee member Aileen McKenzie hit out at Mr Ashgari’s actions.

She said: “You said there was no way that you’d take advantage of vulnerable drunk women in the back seat of your car who are relying on you for safety.

“The fact that you had this lady in your car in the first place, did it not cross your mind that she was a vulnerable young lady.

“Maybe there will be circumstances where there are girls who are drunk come into your car. They might find you attractive. What are you going to do then?

“There is no difference between picking a lady up in the street and picking up the vulnerable woman you were found with. She is just as vulnerable as the girls in the back of your car.”

Licensing chairman Alex Wilson added: “What you did is an offence and you got a warning for your behaviour. What would disturb me more would be is if you got a private hire driver’s licence and you asked a vulnerable young female to do something like this again.”

Mr Ashgari was granted a restricted licence for one year and was given a warning about his future conduct.

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08/09/2018

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Trowbridge taxi driver condemns police clampdown

https://www.gazetteandherald.co.uk/news ... lamp-down/

A WILTSHIRE Police clamp down today on taxis and private hire cars who fail to carry/display a licence or comply with vehicle safety guidelines has been criticised by one of the taxi drivers who was stopped.

Image

The police response when they see Mr Ricaud's headlight out :badgrin:

Officers from the Road Safety Unit, working with the Tri-Force Roads Policing Unit and Wiltshire Council, worked throughout the day to stop taxis and private hire cars in and around Chippenham, Trowbridge and Melksham.

Of the 52 vehicles stopped during the operation, one was immediately removed from the road through an immediate prohibition imposed by Wiltshire Police.

A number of drivers were awarded sanctions from Wiltshire Council for both lack of safety equipment and failure to carry or display a licence.

But Trowbridge taxi driver Andy Ricaud, 47, condemned the clamp down as a “blatant misuse” of public funds and criticised the way in which it had been carried out.

“I am just a bit aggrieved about why they had to do it and how much of the public purse was spent on it. In my eyes, it was unnecessary.

“We have six-monthly checks and MoTs and I check my vehicle’s tyres and headlights every day to make sure they are okay.”

“The emergency services are there for a reason, not to blatantly misused for the services of the council,” said Andy, a taxi driver for the past 16 years.

He was stopped by police using blue flashing lights while on his way home to change a bulb in a front headlight.

“I told them that I wasn’t working and that I was on my way home. The council officer with them seemed to be getting a buzz from them pulling people over.”

But Simon Drewett, Head of the Road Safety Unit at Wiltshire Police, said: “This is the second such operation that we have undertaken in partnership with Wiltshire Council within as many months.

“It was pleasing to see that the vast majority of drivers take an obvious pride in their vehicles, and this of course is in line with the standards set for those operating within the taxi and private hire business.

“Our efforts today were clearly appreciated by the majority and it is in the interest of all parties to deter those that seek to cut corners and bring a bad name to the profession”.

Danial Farr, Compliance Officer at Wiltshire Council said: “When you turn to licensed transport as a means of travel, you must be able to do so in complete confidence; whether in respect of vehicle safety or the professionalism and suitability of the driver in question.

“With the party season just around the corner, we will undoubtedly be looking at drivers within the evening and night time economies in order to ensure that standards continue to be met.”

22/07/18

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Banbury taxis pass assistance dog test

https://www.banburyguardian.co.uk/news/ ... -1-8643370

People who use assistance dogs can be assured that Banbury taxis are accepting their business, as the law requires, following a spot check.

An operation earlier this month saw Cherwell District Council work with the Guide Dogs charity to test licensed taxis and private hire vehicles in the Banbury area.

All the drivers passed the test to see if they would allow an assistance dog and its owner to travel to their destination.

Two popular taxi ranks and three of the town’s most prominent private hire companies were tested.

Clive Wood, who carried out the spot purchasing exercise with his guide dog Winnie, said: “It is not uncommon for us to hear from visually impaired people across the UK, that a taxi provider has refused to take them because they have a guide dog.

“We want to get the message across that a guide dog is a vital mobility aid and it is illegal to refuse a service to a guide dog owner.

“This has been a very positive outcome in Banbury and will reassure those who have assistance dogs.”

Under the Equality Act 2010 and taxi licensing legislation, it is illegal for a licensed vehicle to refuse passage to an assistance dog and their owner.

Drivers who refuse service to a person travelling with an assistance dog, or charging them extra, risk prosecution, fines of up to £1,000, and having their licence revoked.

Cllr Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s executive member with responsibility for licensing, said: “It’s vital that people living with disabilities be able to count on a professional and reliable taxi service. This spot-check shows how seriously we take this issue and the success of the training we run.

“Despite this positive result we cannot be complacent. We will continue to run training and carry out spot checks to ensure that drivers are following the conditions of their licences.”

Cherwell’s ‘Rate My Taxi’ initiative allows customers to provide feedback on the quality of service they receive, based on a short survey.

Passengers can access ‘Rate My Taxi’ via a QR code displayed in participating vehicles. For more information email [email protected] or call 01295 753744.

22/09/18

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Cabbie caught illegally blagging and driving without a licence plate in Milton Keynes

https://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/cab ... -1-8638723

A private hire driver has been successfully prosecuted after being caught illegally picking up passengers - plying for hire (known as ‘blagging’) - and driving without his vehicle licence plate on display in Milton Keynes.

MK Magistrates heard the case last Wednesday, which followed a joint enforcement operation carried out by Milton Keynes and South Northamptonshire Councils in September 2017.

Muhammad Tahir Mahboob of Twinflower, Walnut Tree did not attend court and was convicted in absence of plying for hire, driving without valid motor insurance, and failing to display his vehicle’s licence plate in September 2017.

He was fined £45 for plying for hire, £259 for invalid motor insurance, £57 for no displayed licence plate, given 8 points on his DVLA licence, and also has to pay costs of £1,051 with a victim surcharge of £30.

At the time of the offences his vehicle was operated by Speedline. Mr Mahboob is also currently licensed by South Northants Council and they will take appropriate action concerning his Private Hire/Hackney Carriage driver licence.

The court heard that on September 17 2017 Taxi Licensing Officers from Milton Keynes and South Northants Councils, acting as members of the public, engaged Mr Mahboob’s private hire vehicle on a journey, which had not been pre-booked, from one location to another in Milton Keynes.

Further investigation showed that Mr Mahboob’s vehicle was not insured for this journey and did not have a correctly displayed licence plate.

Councillor Catriona Morris, Chair of the MKC’s Taxi Licensing Committee, said: “The offences of illegally plying for hire and no insurance are serious and put passenger safety at risk if an accident occurs. Also a driver must ensure that their vehicle licence plate is clearly on display so the public can be satisfied that the vehicle has met the requirements of the Local Authority.

“Our ongoing test purchase programme with South Northants Council targeting drivers who illegally ply for hire in Milton Keynes will therefore continue.”

Report this post

20/09/18

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Taxi licences given to three West Dumbartonshire drivers despite concerns

http://www.dumbartonreporter.co.uk/news ... -concerns/

THREE taxi drivers in West Dunbartonshire had their licences granted by councillors, despite all three having serious criminal convictions.

The council’s licensing committee met last Thursday at their Church Street offices in Dumbarton, where all three drivers were ordered to appear personally before the committee to speak in favour of their licences being granted to drive either a taxi or private hire car.

Sergeant Marie Capaldi, representing the chief constable of Police Scotland at the meeting, objected to the grant of a taxi licence to David Darroch, of Napier Crescent, Brucehill, Dumbarton.

The officer told councillors: “He is not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.”

Councillors were told that Mr Darroch had previous convictions, including assault, breach of the peace and, in July 2016, he was convicted at Dumbarton Sheriff Court of drink driving, when he was more than twice the legal alcohol limit.

Committee chairman Councillor Jim Finn, despite the police objections, moved that Mr Darroch be granted a taxi licence, and it was approved unanimously.

The rest of the committee comprised council leader Jonathan McColl and councillors Brian Walker, Jim Brown, and Ian Dickson.

Next to appear before the committee was Ryan Martin, of Dunswin Court, Dalmuir, Clydebank, who also faced a quizzing from the committee following observations to his licence application from Police Scotland.

In 2010 Mr Martin was convicted of assault to severe injury and he also has a previous conviction for driving without insurance.

“There was no excuse for what I did,” Wright told the committee.

Again Cllr Finn moved grant and was backed unanimously.

Third up was William Wright, of Cleddans View, Drumry, Clydebank. Cllr Brown declared an interest and left the room, taking no part in the application.

Mr Wright, who appeared along with lawyer Eugene Boyle, faced a letter from Police Scotland, highlighting previous prosecutions considered as spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders’ Act 1974.

Wright had previous convictions for speeding from 2016 and for cannabis cultivation from 2012, both of which were dealt with at Dumbarton Sheriff Court. He was also convicted of drink driving in 2009.

Mr Boyle explained: “His driving ban was reduced to nine months after he successfully took part in the rehabilitation programme. Not withstanding the previous convictions he has otherwise been of good character.”

Cllr Finn moved to grant the application to Mr Wright which was seconded by Cllr Walker.

20/09/18

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York taxi drivers operate without current criminal record checks due to ‘serious’ council lapse

A ‘serious’ council error has seen taxi drivers operating in York without up-to-date criminal record checks. An investigation by the council’s auditors Veritau discovered that City of York Council had not kept up with the renewal of criminal record checks for existing drivers.

“Checks were out of date by several years and records had not been updated,” Veritau wrote in a report. They said this posed “a potential risk to the travelling public if drivers have not been vetted”. All the checks on new drivers were carried out in compliance with the council’s licensing policy, the authors found.

The revelation comes in a report being assessed by members of the council’s audit and governance committee on Wednesday evening (September 19).

Initially the report’s criticisms were redacted so the public couldn’t read them. But then Conservative Cllr Sam Lisle intervened, and ensured they were published. “The audit as published in the public papers was initially redacted, and after it was raised with me by a member of the public I flagged the issue with officers who agreed with me that it should not have been,” Cllr Lisle told YorkMix. “The unredacted version was published online on Tuesday.”

In the report Veritau writes: “A criminal record check is an important safety measure and the policy dictates that this should be carried out every three years.” But in their research they found checks on some drivers were years overdue.

They selected eight hackney carriage drivers and 11 private hire drivers at random for testing. The report states: Nine of the sample was for licence renewals. A current up-to-date criminal record check from the DBS was not found for any of these nine.

The previous checks that had been carried out were a number of years overdue for five of them, and no details could be found for the other four drivers. The report, which can be read in full here, http://democracy.york.gov.uk/documents/ ... dacted.pdf

also noted that “Around 400 complaints each year are made about taxis. Around half of these complaints over the last year have been in relation to Uber.”

The council’s response

We are taking this matter very seriously and have put additional resources in place to clear the remaining DBS checks and have made good progress with this.We work closely with the police to ensure any drivers who are believed to be of risk are

dealt with immediately, regardless of their DBS clearance which only deal with past incidents.

All drivers dealing with school contracts have been routinely checked. Those drivers requiring a check have responded positively and to-date there have been no issues of concern.

– Neil Ferris, corporate director of economy and place at City of York Council

The report said that a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check plays “a very important role in the monitoring of whether drivers remain ‘fit and proper’ to hold a licence”.

Mike Palmer, secretary of the York Private Hire Association, told YorkMix:

Criminal records checks for drivers in York follow the enhanced Disclosure and Barring system. We work with vulnerable adults, children, customers with specific needs, and the party-goers who don’t always fully understand the situations they find themselves in. We have to be honest and trustworthy.

With the information given by the licensing manager at our last trade / council meeting being that our actions at work – and as importantly, outside our cars and work hours – affect our standing as ‘fit and proper’ to carry on as drivers, I feel confident that no driver would have run afoul of these checks without the council having knowledge from the police during the time identified in the report.

_________________

IDFIMH

20/09/2018

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LTDA calls for investigation into Uber legal bias

https://www.taxi-point.co.uk/single-pos ... gal-bias-1

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association has today called on the Lord Chief Justice to investigate accusations of bias in the decisions of Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot around Uber.

Following a front-page Observer article this weekend, more allegations have come to light about the decisions of Chief Magistrate Arbuthnot. While she has withdrawn from presiding over upcoming licensing appeals, significant questions remain about her decisions in recent cases in London and Reading and her unwillingness to recuse herself in cases involving Uber.

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the LTDA, said:

“It’s appalling that Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot has been involved in so many cases which have backed Uber, without disclosing her links to the company.

“We want the Lord Chief Justice to investigate as a matter of urgency to restore faith in our legal system.”

Significant doubt has been cast over the previous decisions of this judge, due to:

• An apparent determination on the part of Judge Arbuthnot to preside over a number of cases related to Uber. The Chief Magistrate has ordered five matters relating to Uber to be allocated to her for hearing. This includes two prosecutions of Uber drivers for plying for hire which were allocated to her on the initiative and application of Uber-funded lawyers. It also includes the appeals in Brighton and York against refusals to renew Uber’s license, which were transferred to her out of the locality without any hearing in open court.

• It has emerged over the weekend that the Chief Magistrate has assigned the Brighton and Hove appeal to another judge. The LTDA is concerned that this personal selection of another judge represents retention of influence over the hearing of this Uber appeal.

• A rush to complete cases. While five days in court were allocated for Uber’s appeal against Transport for London, it was completed in only two. The LTDA was limited to only five minutes of oral submission in the case.

• Political interference in licensing. Detailed press reports are available on the intervention of 10 Downing Street in Transport for London’s decisions around Uber in 2014 and 2015, when Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson was in post. The Conservative Party ran a petition calling on Sadiq Khan, Labour Mayor of London, to ‘rethink’ his decision to refuse to license Uber in September 2017.

• Family connections. The Chief Magistrate is married to senior Conservative politician Lord Arbuthnot. Lord Arbuthnot is a former director of and current senior consultant to SC Strategy, a company which advises one of Uber’s biggest investors, the Qatar Investment Authority. Despite this connection being a potential conflict of interest, the Chief Magistrate has put herself forward for no fewer than five cases involving Uber.

The brother of the Chief Magistrate, Bartholomew Broadbent, wrote in January 2015 to a regulator in Charleston, South Carolina, in strong support of Uber. He praised Uber in relation to a request for the authority to reinstate Uber services in the city.

At present, there is no mechanism by which the parties to a dispute can be made aware of a potential conflict of interest, such as this family connection, at the outset of a hearing.

The LTDA has been campaigning against the relicensing of Uber in London, on the basis that it is not a fit and proper operator. Its recent ‘Real Cost of Uber’ campaign highlighted issues around Uber’s use of data, its unfair business practices and its record on safety in London.

07/09/18

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Cross border crackdown on rogue taxis by six councils begins

http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/n ... ls-begins/

A NEW partnership will see local authorities in the area working together to make it more difficult for taxi and private hire drivers to break the law.

Cross border enforcement is welcomed by Shabbir Master of the Hackney Carriage Owners and Drivers Association (Image: Telegraph & Argus)

The five West Yorkshire local authorities and York have agreed to a joint enforcement partnership scheme which will ensure action can be taken against any driver licensed by any of the six councils where ever they are operating within the combined borders.

Until now if one of the authorities checked a private hire or hackney carriage taxi licensed by another authority there was little they could do to stop it being driven illegally or unsafely.

But due to the new partnership approach, appropriate action may be taken against a driver by the authority they are working in at the time.

The cross border enforcement is the first of many projects the six authorities – Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York - are working on to support the taxi and private hire trades and improve the safety and comfort of their passengers.

The range of offences covered includes: driving without insurance, picking up passengers on the street who haven’t pre-booked, driving with vehicle defects such as defective brake lights or bald tyres, displaying incorrect signs so that it is not clear the vehicle is a taxi, smoking whilst sat in the taxi, and driving without the correct licence.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, the Council's executive member for healthy people and places, said: “When you get in a private hire vehicle or taxi you should be confident that the vehicle is safe, well maintained and that the driver is licensed, insured and trustworthy.

“The only way to guarantee that is to have a strict set of rules that are regularly enforced.

“It makes absolute sense to carry out cross border enforcement – when we travel by private hire or taxi we do not restrict our journeys to one area, so licensing authorities shouldn’t restrict how we enforce the rules around driving those vehicles.

"It is worth saying that the majority of taxi and private hire drivers and their vehicles are safe and comply with the law.

“For them this change will have no impact. It is those who believe that the law doesn’t apply to them, who selfishly drive without considering the safety of their passengers, who will notice a change.”

Shabbir Master of the Hackney Carriage Owners and Drivers Association in Bradford, welcomed the move, but called for drivers who passed a check in one authority to be given a seven-day receipt which could be produced to enforcement officers in other authorities.

This would prevent the same vehicle and driver being checked multiple times in the same week as they travelled through different council areas.

"The changes are welcomed by the taxi fraternity in Bradford," he said.

07/09/18

*****************************************************************************

Taxi trade 'down by 40 percent' as city council dishes out hundreds of penalty points to drivers

https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/not ... nt-1962189

Council has suspended drivers for bad behaviour with one driver losing his licence this year

Taxi trade 'down by 40 percent' as city council dishes out hundreds of penalty points to drivers

https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/not ... nt-1962189

Council has suspended drivers for bad behaviour with one driver losing his licence this 

Taxis in Nottingham city centre (Image: Nottingham Post)

Taxi drivers have racked up nearly 700 penalty points since a controversial scheme was launched by Nottingham City Council to cut bad behaviour from the trade.

But drivers say officials need to be lenient and allow them more time when dropping people off.

Parking in bus stops, on double yellow lines, and switching off the meter can see taxis issued with penalty points.

Drivers can receive up to 12 points over a three-year rolling period before their licence will be reviewed.

But if they exceed 12 points, action is taken and their licence can be suspended.

The Driver Improvement Penalty Points Scheme (DIPPS) was introduced by the city council on April 1, 2017.

The aim of the scheme was to improve overall driver behaviour, customer service and passenger safety.

Points are handed out by the council's community protection officers (CPOs).

Between April and December in 2017, a total of 301 DIPPS notices were issued, which saw two drivers interviewed. No action was taken in one case and a written warning was issued in the second.

But this number has risen this year as between January and August 2018 where 392 DIPPS notices have been issued and 19 drivers interviewed.

The following actions were taken; two received no further action, 11 received written warnings, four received two week suspensions, one received a four week suspension and one saw their licence revoked.

Chander Sood, 59, acting chair of Unite, which represents more than 100 Hackney taxi drivers, said that drivers had become "easy targets" and there is "less space to park" in the ranks.

He said: "In the city centre we have a 411 fleet and in the daytime there is 60 to 62 spaces - so how can you justify that?"

However, the city council said there is more than 90 Hackney ranks in the city.

He also believes trade has dramatically dropped from drivers making £250 to £300 a week to now earning between £100 and £140.

He blames private hire drivers who are snatching trade by illegally 'plying for hire' on the city streets at night.

Private hire vehicles can only pick up passengers when they have been pre-booked. They cannot be hailed down in the street in the same way as a Hackney cab.

This is called plying for hire and is illegal as the customer is not insured if an accident occurs and the driver is in breach of his or her licence.

This year, 14 Nottingham City Council-licensed drivers have had their licences reviewed for illegally plying for hire, using information gathered from police-led operations and evidence from CCTV.

Five drivers who received their licence from Gedling Borough Council have also been reported for illegally plying for hire as well as one Rushcliffe Borough Council-licenced driver.

Mr Sood added: "The night work is dying out so more hackney drivers are coming out in the morning. There are two reasons for this - plying for hire which is carried out by the private hires is not under control and people are not coming out into the city so much."

Javeed Akthar, senior manager for Nottingham Cars, which represents 400 private hire drivers, said: "The penalty point system is a good idea and it does keep drivers on their toes.

"But some of them are being targeted too harshly and CPOs are not giving them enough time to drop off. If you have got an elderly passenger who wants to be dropped off on Parliament Street and has luggage in the boot, what does the driver do?

"He has to park somewhere and he needs some time. They need to be lenient. It is affecting trade because drivers can be potentially suspended after 12 points."

Image

A taxi driver being stopped by a community protection officer on Friday night (Image: Nottingham Post)

A Nottingham City Council spokesman said: "The Driver Improvement Penalty Points Scheme (DIPPS) was introduced on April 1, 2017 with the aim of improving overall driver compliance with legislation and licence conditions in order to secure improvements in driver behaviour, customer service and passenger safety.

"A DIPPS notice can be issued by an authorised officer to a driver licensed by Nottingham City Council for breaching any of the predetermined standards.

If the driver receives 12 points within a three-year period, they are subject to a review of their licence by the reviewing officer and a decision will be made whether or not to take formal action based on the individual circumstances of each case.

"This may include: take no action, written warning, refuse to renew licence, suspend licence or revoke licence.

"The 'Mytaxi app' was introduced in Nottingham to help Hackney drivers reduce the amount of time they were parked on ranks waiting for fares – many have reported this to be the case since. There are more than 90 Hackney ranks in the city."

Taxis in Nottingham city centre (Image: Nottingham Post)

Taxi drivers have racked up nearly 700 penalty points since a controversial scheme was launched by Nottingham City Council to cut bad behaviour from the trade.

But drivers say officials need to be lenient and allow them more time when dropping people off.

Parking in bus stops, on double yellow lines, and switching off the meter can see taxis issued with penalty points.

Drivers can receive up to 12 points over a three-year rolling period before their licence will be reviewed.

But if they exceed 12 points, action is taken and their licence can be suspended.

The Driver Improvement Penalty Points Scheme (DIPPS) was introduced by the city council on April 1, 2017.

The aim of the scheme was to improve overall driver behaviour, customer service and passenger safety.

Points are handed out by the council's community protection officers (CPOs).

Between April and December in 2017, a total of 301 DIPPS notices were issued, which saw two drivers interviewed. No action was taken in one case and a written warning was issued in the second.

But this number has risen this year as between January and August 2018 where 392 DIPPS notices have been issued and 19 drivers interviewed.

The following actions were taken; two received no further action, 11 received written warnings, four received two week suspensions, one received a four week suspension and one saw their licence revoked.

Chander Sood, 59, acting chair of Unite, which represents more than 100 Hackney taxi drivers, said that drivers had become "easy targets" and there is "less space to park" in the ranks.

He said: "In the city centre we have a 411 fleet and in the daytime there is 60 to 62 spaces - so how can you justify that?"

However, the city council said there is more than 90 Hackney ranks in the city.

He also believes trade has dramatically dropped from drivers making £250 to £300 a week to now earning between £100 and £140.

He blames private hire drivers who are snatching trade by illegally 'plying for hire' on the city streets at night.

Private hire vehicles can only pick up passengers when they have been pre-booked. They cannot be hailed down in the street in the same way as a Hackney cab.

This is called plying for hire and is illegal as the customer is not insured if an accident occurs and the driver is in breach of his or her licence.

This year, 14 Nottingham City Council-licensed drivers have had their licences reviewed for illegally plying for hire, using information gathered from police-led operations and evidence from CCTV.

Five drivers who received their licence from Gedling Borough Council have also been reported for illegally plying for hire as well as one Rushcliffe Borough Council-licenced driver.

Mr Sood added: "The night work is dying out so more hackney drivers are coming out in the morning. There are two reasons for this - plying for hire which is carried out by the private hires is not under control and people are not coming out into the city so much."

Javeed Akthar, senior manager for Nottingham Cars, which represents 400 private hire drivers, said: "The penalty point system is a good idea and it does keep drivers on their toes.

"But some of them are being targeted too harshly and CPOs are not giving them enough time to drop off. If you have got an elderly passenger who wants to be dropped off on Parliament Street and has luggage in the boot, what does the driver do?

"He has to park somewhere and he needs some time. They need to be lenient. It is affecting trade because drivers can be potentially suspended after 12 points."

Image

A taxi driver being stopped by a community protection officer on Friday night (Image: Nottingham Post)

A Nottingham City Council spokesman said: "The Driver Improvement Penalty Points Scheme (DIPPS) was introduced on April 1, 2017 with the aim of improving overall driver compliance with legislation and licence conditions in order to secure improvements in driver behaviour, customer service and passenger safety.

"A DIPPS notice can be issued by an authorised officer to a driver licensed by Nottingham City Council for breaching any of the predetermined standards.

If the driver receives 12 points within a three-year period, they are subject to a review of their licence by the reviewing officer and a decision will be made whether or not to take formal action based on the individual circumstances of each case.

"This may include: take no action, written warning, refuse to renew licence, suspend licence or revoke licence.

"The 'Mytaxi app' was introduced in Nottingham to help Hackney drivers reduce the amount of time they were parked on ranks waiting for fares – many have reported this to be the case since. There are more than 90 Hackney ranks in the city."

04/09/2018

******************************************************************************************

Colchester taxis to fit £600 CCTV

http://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/1660 ... -600-cctv/

CAB drivers could be forced to shell out up to £600 to fit CCTV in their vehicles if plans are given the green light.

A six-week consultation is set to begin on the Colchester Council proposals, which would see all newly registered vehicles required to have the kit fitted.

Already-registered cars would be given time to have their vehicles brought up to standard.

Black cab and private hire firms have joined together to raise their concerns over the proposals.

There is broad agreement CCTV would protect both drivers and their customers but drivers are angry at the cost they would have to shoulder to fit the gear.

David Green, secretary of the Colchester Hackney Carriage Association, spoke at a meeting of Colchester Council’s licensing committee on Wednesday night.

Despite having less than a week’s notice to contact his members, he produced 82 points from association members, largely raising concerns over the cost of the equipment.

He said: “They just do not see how this cost - between £300 and £600 per car - should be down to the trade.

“Every time we come to change our vehicles, we have to get an appointment to get our meter removed and now this will be something else we have to get sorted.”

Christine Harvey, who works for private hire firm Panther Cabs, added: “Without doubt, drivers’ biggest issue is the cost and they do not understand why they are being asked to pay out so much money.

“A lot of our drivers actually have cameras fitted already and it cost them £30 from eBay and honestly they are probably better than ones that cost £200 or £300.

“There is no question CCTV is a good idea, it’s just the expense. There is a cheaper way to do it.”

The speakers also raised the issue of privacy as many drivers, especially in private hire, used their vehicles privately when not on duty, and also suggested some customers would prefer not to have conversations recorded.

Mr Green said: “Many times when a customer has got out of the taxi, they have turned to me and said: ‘Driver, you didn’t hear that conversation,’ and I understand that.”

Julie Young (Lab), who chaired the meeting, said the move is about “protecting drivers and customers”.

She said: “Even if this policy is recommended, there will be a public consultation so both drivers and the public will be able to give their views.”

The policy was recommended for approval.

04/09/2018

****************************************************************************************

The Cornwall taxi drivers granted licences despite horrendous convictions

https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornw ... ll-1906574

Local Democracy Reporter Richard Whitehouse looked at the minutes of behind-closed-doors meetings and found this list of cases in the last two months alone.

Taxi drivers are being granted licences despite having an array of convictions for crimes ranging from causing death by dangerous driving to speeding.

One taxi driver has a string of offences dating back to 1986 including causing the death of a friend by reckless driving, no insurance, theft and common assault. The committee still judged him a 'fit and proper' person to drive a taxi.

Cornwall Council's miscellaneous licensing committee regularly meets to decide applications from drivers who want to operate Hackney carriages and private hire taxis.

Under regulations the council has to determine whether drivers are 'fit and proper' persons to hold a licence as a cabbie. They are bound by strict regulations.

However the meetings are held in private with the press and public unable to attend due to the personal nature of the applications.

But minutes of the meetings are provided and while they do not identify the drivers they do detail why their applications have gone before the committee.

Cornwall Live looked at the minutes of meetings held in the last two months to see why some of these drivers were having to have their cases considered by local councillors.

Case One: Parish councillor who was caught drink driving

At a meeting of the committee on July 27 the case of driver W1D144 from the Penwith area came up.

Councillors heard that the driver had been convicted of driving with excess alcohol in 2011.

But they were told by the driver that "it was a one off", "he regretted it and would never do it again" and "he was a parish councillor and did a lot of work in his local community".

Councillors also heard a statement from the applicant's friend who provided support.

The committee resolved to grant their licence as they felt the driver was a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

Case Two: Armed forces driver caught speeding three times on the A303

At the same meeting the committee considered an application from Penwith driver W1D145 who had been given nine points on their licence for speeding on three separate occasions.

The applicant explained that the offences occurred when he was driving on the A303 and caught speeding at 74, 76 and 78 mph.

He explained that he was in the armed forces and was a driver by trade. He told councillors that he had been sent on a number of driver awareness courses and reprimanded by the military following the most recent offence.

Councillors were told that "he had learnt his lesson and wouldn't do it again" and appreciated that one more speeding offence would result in him losing his driving licence.

The minutes of the meeting state: "The committee noted their overriding consideration to the public and the importance of protecting the public and public safety but felt that W1D145 was a fit and proper person to hold a licence."

Case Three: Aggressive Kerrier taxi driver

As well as granting licences the committee also sometimes has to revoke them.

The meeting on July 27 had to do this for one driver W2D104 from Kerrier who failed to attend two meetings where his licence was being discussed.

His licence was revoked "in the interests of public safety due to the conduct of Driver W2D104".

The committee heard that there had been complaints about the driver's behaviour and he had also been given a formal written warning about his behaviour at a meeting in January.

The minutes state: "Members also noted the evidence that W2D104’s previous employer had stated that he had felt it necessary to inform W2D104 that he could no longer work for him due to receiving complaints regarding W2D104 relating to his manner of driving and aggressive manner and language used in the presence of customers.

"Members felt that the behaviour of W2D104 was unprofessional and inappropriate for a professional licensed driver and that he was not a fit and proper person to be licensed."

Case Four: Driver 'haunted' by string of serious convictions

Driver W2D109 from Kerrier was granted his licence despite having 12 convictions and one caution between 2006 and 2015.

The committee heard that the offences included dishonesty, driving offences, criminal damage, burglary and theft.

At the meeting the applicant was given the opportunity to explain and said that his father had died and this had affected him badly.

He told councillors that he had worked as a courier driver for 12 months with no issues and said he was now "a family man and had changed and grown up".

The committee also heard that: "He was ashamed of what he had done and it followed him around and haunted him whenever he tried to get a new job."

The minutes state: "Members applied the test of whether they would be happy for their husband, wife, son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter or person they cared about, or a vulnerable person, to travel alone in a vehicle with the applicant. Members concluded that they would."

Case Five: Caradon taxi driver with excess alcohol conviction

Councillors on the miscellaneous licensing committee considered one driver's conviction for driving with excess alcohol to be "serious".

But after considering reports and hearing a statement from the driver they granted his licence.

Driver CD152 from Caradon explained to the committee that the conviction "was the biggest mistake he had ever made and he regretted it".

Case Six: Restormel driver caused death of friend by reckless driving

At the committee's meeting on June 21 they considered the case of driver CD150 from the Restormel area.

Councillors heard that the applicant had been convicted of offences dating back to 1986 including theft of a vehicle, driving with no insurance and causing death by reckless driving. He had also been cautioned for common assault in 2011.

The minutes state: "Members noted the guidelines in relation to the offences and in particular that the guidelines stated that a licence would not normally be granted if an applicant had a conviction which has resulted in the death of a person.

"Members felt that this was clearly a serious matter and the fact that the death was caused as a result of a driving offence was a relevant consideration for them in the context of the application."

The applicant explained to the committee that: "The driving offence resulted in the death of his friend and he lost his leg.

"That the caution was for something he did not feel he was responsible for. That he had been a taxi driver in London for more than 16 years. That he had a taxi job to go to if his application was successful."

Taking all the information into account the committee decided that the driver was a "fit and proper person" and granted the licence.

29/08/18

******************************************************************************

Japanese carmaker Toyota is to invest $500m (£387m) in Uber and expand a partnership to jointly develop self-driving cars.

The firm said this would involve the "mass-production" of autonomous vehicles that would be deployed on Uber's ride sharing network.

It is being viewed as a way for both firms to catch up with rivals in the competitive driverless car market.

The deal also values Uber at some $72bn, despite its mounting losses.

That is up 15% since its last investment in May but matches a previous valuation in February.

According to a press release issued by the firms, self-driving technology from each company will be integrated into purpose-built Toyota vehicles.

Uber halts self-driving tests after death

Uber settles with Waymo on self-driving

The fleet will be based on Toyota's Sienna Minivan model with pilot trials beginning in 2021.

Shigeki Tomoyama, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Corporation, said: "This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company as we help provide a path for safe and secure expansion of mobility services like ride-sharing."

Image copyright

Uber

Image caption

Uber technology will be incorporated in Toyota vehicles

Both Toyota and Uber are seen as lagging behind in developing self-driving cars, as firms such as Waymo, owned by Alphabet, steam ahead.

Uber has also scaled back its self-driving trials after a fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona, in March, when a self-driving Uber SUV killed a pedestrian.

Since then, the ride-hailing giant has removed its autonomous cars from the road and closed its Arizona operations.

Analysis: Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter, San Francisco

Uber's troubled self-driving car efforts are in need of external help, and this deal with Toyota might provide that expertise. It's of course a terrific opportunity for Toyota, too.

It was reported earlier this month that Uber was sinking around $1m-$2m into its autonomy work every single day. The results of that effort have not been something to be proud of - one fatal crash, one very expensive lawsuit, and not a lot of self-driving compared to the leader in this sector, Waymo.

Sharing the burden, and R&D cost, will delight Uber's investors as it aims for its initial public offering next year.

Meanwhile, shares in Toyota spiked at reports of the deal. Not surprising. Many analysts think personal car ownership will drop dramatically when the self-driving, ride-sharing future is fully upon us - with major companies instead purchasing enormous fleets of vehicles. Toyota, then, may have just secured its biggest ever customer.

The deal extends an existing relationship with Toyota, and furthers Uber's strategy of developing autonomous driving technology through partnerships.

The US firm has also teamed up with Daimler, which hopes to own and operate its own self-driving cars on Uber's network.

On Monday, Uber said it planned to focus more on its electric scooter and bike business in future, and less on cars - despite the fact it could hurt profits.

Revenue from its taxi business is rising but the cost of expansion into new areas such as bike sharing and food delivery has meant losses have grown rapidly.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45324753

29/08/2018

**************************************************************************

Law commission report due for government response next month

Steve McNamara, LTDA General Secretary

https://www.taxi-point.co.uk/single-pos ... next-month

Since Parliament has broken up for Summer Recess there have been rumours about the Law Commission’s review of taxi and private hire services. If you’ve drawing a blank on what this is about, you’re not alone.

Having started in 2011, the review was concluded in 2014 at which point the commission presented its report and recommendations to government. However, it is yet to get a response.

Now, we’re suddenly hearing the government may be about to respond to the commission’s recommendations.

As a quick refresher – it recommended the introduction of a new single legal framework for the regulation of taxi and PHV services across England and Wales and national standards for taxis and PHVs. It also recommended that local licensing authorities could set additional standards for taxis only, and not for PHVs.

The Law Commission said its proposals would make it easier for PHVs to cross border hire and would give licensing officers new enforcement powers to deal with vehicles and drivers licensed in different areas.

Clearly, this would make the problems we face worse, not better. It would effectively legalise the ability for operators such as Uber to get cheap licences anywhere in the country and flood areas like London, exploit the market and undercut taxis and local PHV services.

Government is now facing pressure from MPs from all parties to publish the report and recommendations made by the working group on taxi and PHV licensing, which I took part in on behalf of the trade earlier this year. It must have realised it can’t put off responding to the Law Commission any longer.

Representing our trade on the working group, I pushed hard for national minimum standards, a definition of cross border hiring, and crucially, a definition of plying for hire.

When Parliament comes back from holiday in September, hopefully we will finally see the long-awaited action we need.

26/08/18

***************************************************************************************

Council launches process that will see major changes to Liverpool's taxi trade

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... r-15068488

And if drivers don't play ball, they could find themselves banned from driving in the city

Liverpool Council is to begin the process that will see a major change made to how the taxi trade in the city operates.

The authority is planning to get rid of older, dirtier diesel engines in Hackney carriages - as part of its clean air agenda.

The city council currently licences more than 1,400 hackney carriages in Liverpool, several hundred of which have been retro-fitted with older diesel engines.

Under its plan, the ‘retro-fitted’ carriages with older diesel engines would be phased out. Retro-fitting means that the vehicle’s engine is removed and replaced with an earlier model. The older engines are cheaper to run but they also pump out higher levels of harmful Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) into the atmosphere.

If the plan goes ahead, drivers will be given three months to inform the council that they have a retro-fitted cab. Those who do will be given a further five year grace period before the council refuses to licence such vehicles.

Any driver failing to notify the council of a retro-fitted engine could have their licence suspended and any new applications for a licence automatically refused.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Air Quality, Cllr James Noakes, said: “Improving air quality in our city is a priority for the council and its partners. Some stretches of the city’s roads exceed the accepted levels of NO2 emissions. hackney carriages with older engines are a cause of this type of pollution and we have set ourselves strict targets to see a reduction in these potentially harmful emissions.”

Nitrogen Dioxide emissions have been linked with a range of respiratory problems. Breathing in higher than accepted levels can aggravate conditions such as asthma, particularly in children and older people.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has set up a multi-agency task force which ls considering a range of measures to reduce the levels of NO2 and other pollutants in the atmosphere.

As well as phasing out retro-fitting engines, the group is looking at plans for more electric vehicle charging points, a campaign to encourage more people to walk or cycle for shorter journeys and a plan to reduce traffic congestion.

Cllr Noakes added: “If we want our city to have clean and clearer air for future generations then doing nothing simply isn’t an option. The plans are still at an early stage but before we move forward we want to know what members of the hackney carriage trade think about them.

"Ultimately any decision about improving air quality through removing retro-fitted engines would be taken by the council’s cabinet. We need to get everyone’s views on this issue so we can make an informed decision. We are writing to all hackney carriage drivers who are licensed in the city and I would urge them to fill in the survey and give us their views.”

Hackney carriage drivers have until Sunday September 30 to complete the survey.

For more information on air quality in Liverpool visit the council’s website: www.liverpool.gov.uk and search for ‘air quality’.

25/08/18

*********************************************************************************

Terrified female student cried silently while being sexually assaulted by Delta taxi driver who filmed attack

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... y-15065602

"She was petrified and believed she was going to be raped... the only thing she could think of doing was pretending she was still asleep"

A terrified female student told how she cried silently and pretended to be asleep while she was being sexually assaulted by a depraved taxi driver.

Delta private hire worker Felix Chan, 35, thought he had got away with groping one young woman when he wasn't charged by police.

The married dad-of-two then targeted a second victim, taking sickening video and pictures of her naked body before she woke up and pretended to be asleep.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Chan first struck after picking up three young students in Liverpool city centre one night last year.

The 19-year-old victim was sick and he demanded £70 for cleaning his car, before arriving at her shared accommodation.

He followed her into the building and up a staircase, then suddenly put a hand up her skirt, when she was not wearing underwear.

The woman feared for her friend still in his car, so ran outside and took photos of the taxi on her mobile phone, before calling police.

When arrested the next day, Chan claimed his hand may have gone up her skirt when she went to fall and he tried to stop her.

He was not charged until after a second incident this year, when he targeted a 20-year-old woman, who was "very drunk".

The student became separated from her friends on a night out in Liverpool, who went back to Warrington without her.

She was upset and got in Chan's taxi while messaging friends on WhatsApp and asked him to take her to a location.

Chan did not do this and she messaged her friends saying "he is feeling me up" and "what the F am I supposed to do".

He demanded money up front to take her home and took her to two cashpoints, before turning off her GPS for 47 minutes.

The victim sent further messages saying "he won't stop touching me up" and "he says I can't pay so he has to".

A friend rang the victim who said Chan was touching her, before he took the phone and said "don't worry I will take care of her".

Deborah Gould, prosecuting, said the woman fell asleep and Chan's GPS showed he took her to Pine Mews.

She said: "That was the opportunity he took to sexually assault her and take footage of her on his mobile phone."

The woman woke up while being assaulted but was "too terrified to say or do anything, froze and pretended to be asleep".

He asked if she was okay but the woman said she didn't respond and was "crying silently with tears rolling down her face".

Chan took her home, but stopped again at a bus stop nearby, where he molested her and filmed her genitalia.

Ms Gould said: "She was petrified and believed she was going to be raped.

"The only thing she could think of doing was pretending she was still asleep."

The victim gave a neighbour's address because Chan insisted on walking her to the door.

Her parents found her distraught and called police, who later identified Chan on CCTV from the ATMs.

Officers arrested him at his home in Maidstone Close, Hunts Cross, where they recovered his mobile phone.

The first woman had mental health problems and said the ordeal made them even worse, leading to suicidal thoughts.

She could not walk in public or use public transport for fear of Chan seeing her and received medication and counselling.

The second woman suffered panic attacks and sleepless nights, was too scared to apply for a job in Liverpool and had counselling.

Chan, now of no fixed address, admitted three counts of sexual assault and one of assault by penetration.

Mark Kelly, defending, said his client was remorseful and "exhibiting a degree of insight into the impact on others".

The barrister said: "He is a family man. It's clearly had implications for his wife and young children.

"He is the breadwinner and trust has been broken in that marriage. He is having to reappraise his relationship, as is his wife.

"His life is effectively in tatters now - he is previously a man of good character, now facing a substantial time in jail."

Judge Steven Everett said a pre-sentence report suggested Chan lived "a hedonistic lifestyle".

He said: "It looks as if to me there isn't much respect for women generally, certainly none for his wife.

"It seems he didn't regard it as unusual to go on these jaunts with other men, where there was sexual contact with other women.

"I find that very depressing and very unpleasant."

Judge Everett said taxi drivers provided an important public service but Chan abused his position of trust.

He said he exploited two vulnerable women and the second endured "very disgusting, additional degradation".

The judge said Chan decided because the 20-year-old was alone and drunk he "could get away with sexually assaulting her".

He said he took her to a quiet spot and when she was unconscious filmed his abuse "in a totally disgusting, depraved and deplorable manner".

Judge Everett said: "Two people have had their lives totally turned upside down by your disgusting behaviour."

He jailed Chan for seven years and told him to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

The judge also made an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order, which bans him from being a taxi driver.

24/08/18

******************************************************************************

Taxi wars': Abuse for Go Carz drivers after moving into Oswestry

https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/loc ... -oswestry/

A ‘taxi war’ has broken out in a town after a new firm moved in.

Managers at Go Carz private hire firm, which recently started operating in Oswestry, claim their drivers are being intimidated by some rival drivers and say they have even had to report one incident to the police.

Some established drivers claim the new firm is parking in taxi ranks and touting for business reserved for hackney carriages.

Cindy Wilday, director at Go Carz, claimed advertising banners had been ripped down.

“We were asked by customers to come to Oswestry because they were frustrated at the low numbers of taxis available in the town,” she said.

“We have been really busy and our drivers carried out nearly 1,000 jobs in the area last week.

"Oswestry is a fantastic town and we are delighted to be working here but we have been shocked and surprised at how some people have reacted.

“Some of our banners and posters have been torn down, and some of the comments on social media have been rather negative to say the least.

“Our message today is that we are here to stay.”

Abuse

She said the latest incident happened on Saturday night when a Go Carz driver was abused outside The Wilfred Owen Wetherspoons pub on Willow Street.

“We have reported that incident to the police because we will not tolerate our drivers being threatened just for doing their job,” she added.

Inspector Tracy Ryan from West Mercia Police said: “Obviously the night time economy is an important part of Oswestry and we welcome residents and visitors to the area.

“We recommend people make sure they have a safe way of getting home after a night out and value the contribution taxis play in doing this.

“We are aware of this matter and that it has been referred to Shropshire Council’s licensing department in the first instance.

“Should any further matters be reported we will respond in partnership with Shropshire Council to address any issues.”

Nick Cox who has run Oswestry Cabs for 12 years, said he was happy to see competition, providing it was a level playing field for everyone.

"Live and let live I say. I do 250-280 airport runs a year and good service speaks for itself," he said.

"However, I understand from talking to other drivers that Go Carz have been seen waiting in taxi ranks which, as a private hire firm company, they are not allowed to do.

"Private hire companies are not allowed to tout for business they have to have a pre-booking."

24/08/18

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Taxi driver 'kicked in head and racially abused' during robbery at Shipley Station

http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/n ... y-station/

A CABBIE was kicked in the head while being racially abused and robbed at a train station.

The violent incident took place at Shipley Rail Station, and now British Transport Police are appealing to the public to help track down those responsible.

The attackers took money and a phone from the driver during the robbery, which took place at 8.40pm on Tuesday, August 7.

Police have now released images of four people they want to speak to in relation to the attack.

Image

A British Transport Police spokesman said: “Officers would like to speak to the boys shown in these CCTV images as they believe they may have information which could help the investigation.

Shipley MP Philip Davies said: “It’s horrific, completely unacceptable and disgusting to be perfectly honest. I hope the British Transport Police will make a point of focusing on Shipley Station around those times to make sure it’s safe and the perpetrators are brought to justice. It’s a shame to Shipley.”

He added: “Northern Rail, Network Rail and the British Transport Police should be working together so it’s safe for taxis to operate there. I hope they get together and find out what can be done to make it safer.

“We can’t stand aside and allow this behaviour to go unchecked and it needs to be dealt with quickly.”

Asif Shah, one of Shipley Central’s operation managers, said this isn’t an isolated incident.

He said the latest incident did not involve one of his company's drivers, but added that a similar thing happened to one of his drivers only two months ago.

He explained how three or four lads tried to open the doors of the taxi at Shipley Station but thankfully the driver, as per company policy, had his doors locked and managed to get into first gear and drive off.

Mr Shah said: “At the end of the day, our drivers do a brilliant job - when firefighters are attacked we praise them - we also provide an important public service.”

Mr Shah said that often perpetrators will ring multiple taxi firms at the same time and try to attack them as they come and go.

He said: “We have 200 drivers - there’s a protocol for an emergency. We have a button our drivers can press which connects back to the office. Everything stops and the nearest driver in the area will go an assist the distressed party.”

Mr Shah said more needs to be done to allow incidents to be linked together. Six months ago, he said he was among a number of other taxi bosses who wrote to the council putting forward the idea of a dedicated “taxi cop” - as is the case in Bristol - who would be aware of all goings on and could link cases. He said: “Currently, there’s no way of tying them together.”

“Anyone with information should call BTP on 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016, with reference 625 of 7 August. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

24/08/18

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Why are Newcastle taxi drivers protesting? Here's what it's all about - in their own words

After drivers brought city centre roads to a standstill, Newcastle Hackney Carriage Driver Association released this statment

Newcastle taxi drivers brought roads to a standstill on Thursday, August 23 when they launched a protest in the city centre.

A huge amount of cars descended on the same rank between Haymarket and Eldon Square at the same time, creating serious congestion in the area.

It was organised by the newly-formed Newcastle Hackney Carriage Driver Association (NHCDA) and intended to raise awareness about a number of issues for drivers in the city.

This is an issue which looks set to run and run with the possibility of further disruption so, for full transparency, here’s why drivers say they are angry.

After the protest, the NHCDA sent a statement to ChronicleLive which we are publishing below in full.

Below that is the official response from Newcastle City Council.

Image

Image: Newcastle Chronicle

[b]NHCDA statement

“The Newcastle Hackney carriage Drivers Association, the main body representing the city’s hackney carriage trade, has decided to exercise the right of all hackney carriage drivers by having a Go to Work Day to highlight the difficulties of having insufficient rank spaces within the city centre.

“The hackney carriage trade has suffered serious setbacks as a direct result of Newcastle City Council removing ranks without prior consultation or involvement from drivers.

“The recent closure of the taxi rank at The Gate, in particular, has created substantial difficulties for hackney carriage vehicles to move around the city and this is further exacerbated by limited or restricted access through bus lanes and gates.

“This, together with the historic closure of ranks, has caused an accumulation of problems and the hackney carriage industry feels that essential driving routes, whilst transporting members of the public, have become complicated and with increased fares, and therefore not in the interests of public safety or convenience.

“Hackney carriage drivers are keen to address the problems of insufficient rank spaces provided by Newcastle City Council.

“The difficulties of finding spaces which are accessible to members of the public, particularly at weekends, has a direct effect on traffic congestion and traffic flow.

“This is also impacted by the numbers of private hire vehicles which illegally park up and ply for hire preventing the hackney carriage trade from legally working.

“The numbers of private hire licences issued by the Licensing Department have increased threefold in as many years due to reductions in the criteria for issuing private hire licences.

“The city centre, at weekends, is flooded with private hire drivers accepting non pre-booked work and whilst there may be difficulties managing and policing this, the hackney carriage industry firmly believe it is the responsibility of the local authority to prevent this from occurring.

“The resulting issues with traffic congestion, public safety, air quality and pollution, which are known agendas for Newcastle City Council, should be tied in with their licensing policies and practices, otherwise their members are being counter-productive.

“Whilst the hackney carriage industry recognises and welcomes Newcastle City Council’s plan to further pedestrianise the city centre and increase access to shopping, leisure and tourism, drivers want members of the public to be aware of and able to use a Black Cab as an official emblem of the city and an integral part of the city centre’s transport system.”

Newcastle City Council statement

Councillor Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality, said: “We have been working closely with representatives from the newly formed Newcastle Hackney Drivers Association to identify new rank spaces across the city, along with improved signage.

“It is unfortunate that rather than continuing to engage with us through this new representative group they have instead resorted to an unofficial protest causing disruption to the city centre impacting on the journey of hundreds of road users.

“I recognise the Hackney carriage drivers are concerned by the number of licenses being granted to private hire operators but this has been seen in cities across the country because by law, local authorities are not able to impose a cap on the number of licences we issue.

“The council regards taxis to be an essential part of our public transport offer in the city.

“We are keen to work with the taxi trade to develop locations that work in the best interests of all road users and the city’s plans to improve air quality.

“We would encourage the association to continue to engage with us and take productive steps to improve the situation.”

24/08/18

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Inverness taxi drivers furious after councillors approve scrapping of city centre ranks

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/ne ... tre-ranks/

Inverness taxi drivers are furious after local councillors approved proposals to do away with the Castle Wynd rank and the rank on the east side of Bridge Street.

The west side of Bridge Street will become the only rank in the city centre, accommodating four vehicles, with taxis also allowed to use the adjoining loading bay at night.

Councillors also threw out a proposal to use the far end of the High Street at Eastgate as a taxi rank at night.

They were told a petition of more than 3,500 signatures in support of keeping the Castle Wynd rank was handed in after the closing date.

Inverness Taxi Alliance chairman Andrew MacDonald said the councillors’ decisions ‘beggared belief’.

He said: “According to Scottish Government legislation, with 400 taxis in Inverness we should have rank space for one third of them, that’s 130 places. We’re left with four, and the loading bay.

“Years ago, it was decided that Bridge Street was too dangerous to have as a taxi rank and Castle Wynd was the safe option.

“You can get 28 vehicles in there at night and you can take your passengers easily east or west. With what they’re proposing, it’s complicated to take passengers east off Bridge Street. Do they want car doors opening into traffic, and drivers doing U turns across three lanes of traffic? It’s madness.”

Mr MacDonald added: “The councillors are not qualified to make these sorts of decisions. They don’t know the trade.”

Highland Council’s principal planning officer Shane Manning said there had been considerable investment in the Castle Wynd part of the city with a natural flow for pedestrians envisaged from ‘castle to kirk.’

He said: “We still have four to six months for the tender process for the Castle Wynd streetscaping works, so taxis can still use it until the construction work begins and we can continue to look at options.”

He agreed that officials would seek further solutions to the issue of a night time rank in town following the councillors’ rejection of the Eastgate proposal.

18/08/18

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Mayor of London asks for power to cap private hire drivers

The mayor of London has asked for powers to cap the number of private hire drivers, which have proliferated since 2011 with the rise of Uber and its competitors.

In a letter to transport secretary Chris Grayling, Sadiq Khan wrote: “The huge increase in private hire drivers on London’s roads in recent years is causing increased congestion, polluting our air and leaving many drivers struggling to make enough money to support themselves and their families.”

Mr Khan, who chairs Transport for London, said the number of private hire drivers had increased from 60,000 in 2011 to more than 110,000 today.

TfL has powers to regulate private hire vehicles, as set down in law, but these do not included a cap, which would require legislation. At the moment, once TfL has issued a licence to an operator, the company can have as many private hire vehicles as it likes.

London’s mayor asked Mr Grayling to have the power to follow New York’s lead last week in putting a year-long cap on the number of vehicles linked to ride hailing apps.

Mr Khan has made similar demands in the past. Last year he wrote a letter saying that he had asked for caps “at every possible opportunity”.

The new letter comes after a shift in TfL’s tone since the start of the year, when it started issuing many more private hire licences following an unofficial pause while it developed regulations for high tech transport companies.

The authority published new rules in February that would force ride hailing apps to limit the time their drivers work and turn over travel data to the government. Since then, it has awarded licences to companies including Citymapper, the London-based app, and ViaVan, a joint venture between New York-based Via and Mercedes-Benz.

TfL also granted Uber a new licence this summer after a high-stakes court battle and a series of concessions from the group. Uber’s Indian rival Ola this month announced plans to expand into the UK.

A cap on private hire vehicles could disrupt launch plans from these companies. Uber and Lyft vociferously objected to the licence freeze in New York, with Uber urging customers to petition against the regulation and running a series of ads on TV and online.

Uber said the company wanted to help address congestion and air pollution: “By competing with private cars, getting more people into fewer vehicles and investing in our clean air plan, we can be a part of solution in London.”

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “We support the mayor in calling for a cap in private hire vehicles in London. With the number of PHVs on London roads nearly doubling in recent years, Londoners have seen a rise in congestion and a negative impact on air quality.” There are 23,800 licensed London taxi drivers.


18/08/18

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“Steaming drunk” West Cumbria woman grabbed steering wheel during taxi journey

TAXI passenger who grabbed the vehicle’s steering wheel during a West Cumbria journey has been sentenced by a judge.

Lucy Dobbin, 29, was said to have been “steaming drunk” while travelling with another intoxicated woman on January 5. “Agitated and distressed”, Dobbin mistakenly believed the car was speeding, and grabbed the wheel on the A595. The driver was able to avoid colliding with an oncoming vehicle but his vehicle crashed into a wall as he tried to regain control.

Dobbin was sentenced at Carlisle Crown Court after admitting causing a danger to road users by interfering with a vehicle. She also admitted assaulting a 15-year-old girl outside a Whitehaven pub in March when she was drunk again.

After hearing mitigation and details of Dobbin’s recent “real and proven progress” with a professional organisation, Judge Barbara Forrester suspended a five-month jail term for two years. Dobbin, of Westmorland Road, Hensingham, must also complete rehabilitation and a three-month night-time curfew.

Judge Forrester said of the taxi crime: “You are very fortunate nobody was seriously injured.”

18/08/18

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Dundee robber held up two taxi drivers for £30 while armed with a REMOTE CONTROL wrapped in TIN FOIL

https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/3 ... -tin-foil/

Scott Taylor faces a long stint behind bars after admitting the theft with his makeshift weapon

A ROBBER held up two taxi drivers while armed with a REMOTE CONTROL wrapped in TIN FOIL

Scott Taylor is facing a lengthy jail term after he admitted targeting two cabbies – arming himself with a phony weapon and demanding cash after being picked up by the drivers.

In the first robbery he managed to make off with £30 – but was foiled in the second when his female victim told him to “f*** off”.

Fiscal depute Saima Rasheed told Dundee Sheriff Court that when he was caught Taylor told police he he shaped tin foil round a remote control to make it look like a knife.

She added: “He said it was never his intention to harm anyone.”

In the first incident, Taylor was picked up at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and asked to be taken to a city centre pub.

But just after leaving the hospital Taylor had driver David McManus pull over while he went to get money and a key.

Moments later he re-entered the cab and pulled what appears to be a knife from his holdall and held it to Mr McManus’ stomach, demanding cash.

As he made off with £30, Taylor said: “That’ll do. I’m sorry, I’ve just been sanctioned, I’ve not eaten for three days.”

Two days later Taylor targeted Lynne Cowan after calling for a taxi to pick him up at an address in Dundee’s Dee Gardens under a fake name.

Taylor got in the taxi and said he wanted to go to the Fintry area of the city.

He then pulled out his remote control knife and demanded money – but because he was the first fare of her shift Miss Cowan said she didn’t have any.

When he again made his demand she shouted “f*** off” and he ran away

Taylor, 33, a prisoner at HMP Perth, pleaded guilty on indictment to robbing David McManus on May 31 and attempting to rob Lynne Cowan on June 2 in the Charleston area of Dundee

Defence solicitor Lesley Beats said: “Reports will be required in this case and there is no motion for bail.”

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael deferred sentence until September 20 for social work background reports and remanded Taylor in custody meantime.

18/08/18

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Wigan taxi boss faces new allegations

https://www.wigantoday.net/news/transpo ... -1-9295092

A controversial taxi boss is back in the spotlight after Wigan Council confirmed it was looking into allegations made against him.

Hossein Ghorbani, who formerly ran Crusader Cabs and is now a director of Uber Taxis North West, is facing an investigation by the town hall.

The Wigan Observer understands that the allegations involve Mr Ghorbani’s acting threateningly and aggressively towards black cab drivers in the town centre.

However, Mr Ghorbani, of Hamilton Road in Ashton, has emphatically denied any wrongdoing and claimed that he is the victim of a witch hunt.

Despite that the local authority has confirmed that it has received complaints about Mr Ghorbani and is looking into them.

Julie Middlehurst, group manager for regulatory services at Wigan Council, said: “As with all complaints we receive, they are currently being investigated.”

The Wigan Observer has been led to believe the incidents involve tempers flaring due to disagreements over vehicles on the taxi rank on Wallgate.

Another point of disagreement appears to be customers from a fast food takeaway close to the train station and taxi businesses getting private hire vehicles.

However, Mr Ghorbani has responded strongly to defend himself against the accusations. He said: “They are always coming with these things. They do anything to us, every time something happens these people are making a complaint.

“We have opened a food place next to the station and that’s what this is all about. “They are just trying to attack me. That’s what all this is. I am not doing anything wrong.”

Mr Ghorbani was previously the subject of lengthy court proceedings after his old firm Crusader Cabs was served with enforcement and stop notices over running a taxi business from a Wallgate shop without permission.

He then left the company in 2017 after all his appeal attempts failed, with Monica Sak taking over Crusader Taxis and attempting to heal the firm’s relationship with the local authority.

The business successfully applied for planning permission to open a new booking office in a former takeaway on King Street late in 2017.

11/08/18

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Taxi drivers snared for ripping off Liverpool fans after Anfield matches in undercover stings

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... l-15015709

The results come as Mayor Joe Anderson warns Reds fans to avoid dodgy cabbies and private hire drivers ahead as the new season kicks off

Taxi drivers have been snared in undercover stings attempting to rip off Liverpool fans after matches at Anfield.

A black cab driver and a private hire driver have both been ordered to pay hundreds of pounds after being found guilty of illegal practices including cherry picking and attempting to rip off Reds fans by charging extortionate fares before journeys.

Last year, the ECHO ran a number of reports of issues around taxi and private hire drivers attempting to rip off matchgoing fans - with some drivers coming forward to say such actions were taking place every time Liverpool played at Anfield.

Cherry picking is where unscrupulous black cab drivers wait outside the match with their ‘for hire’ sign not lit. They claim to be unavailable but when a potential fare comes along they are suddenly ready to go. The snag is, they keep the meter off and end up charging the passenger well over the odds.

In some examples passengers have been charged £20 or more for a journey that would have cost as little as £5 if the meter was on.

Plying for hire is where private hire drivers attempt to pick up passengers who have not booked in advance – meaning the journey is illegal and the driver is uninsured.

Following these reports, Mayor Joe Anderson vowed to tackle the issue - and launched undercover operations after a number of matches in order to catch dodgy drivers in the act.

This involved council officers posing as passengers to see if they could identify those not playing by the rules.

And on the day the new Premier League season kicks off - it has been revealed that those undercover stings have been successful.

This week some of the drivers snared in the operation faced their day in court.

This included Liverpool-based Hackney Carriage driver Alan Duringer, who admitted cherry picking when facing the city’s magistrates.

The court heard that Duringer was parked on Walton Breck Road close to Anfield at the end of Liverpool’s clash with West Brom in January.

The undercover officers asked if he could take them to Lime Street. Durringer said he had a £20 fare booked but if they could cover it, he would take them.

He was ordered to pay £280 in fines and costs by the court.

At the same match, Wirral-based private hire driver Musleh Uddin was caught plying for hire when he again agreed to take two undercover officers to Lime Street for £20 despite the journey not being booked in advance.

Uddin admitted plying for hire and driving without insurance and was ordered to pay £375 and given six penalty points.

Ahead of Liverpool's Anfield curtain raiser with West Ham on Sunday afternoon, Mayor Anderson has warned that further undercover operations will be taking place.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “This kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable. Football fans in the city have the right to enjoy the match without the fear that they might be getting ripped off or taking an uninsured ride on the way home.

“We have listened to the fans who complained about this last season and have taken action. The vast majority of cabbies and private hire drivers in our city are honest and decent and will not try and overcharge people. However, for those who are not, we will be carrying out similar operations this season with a view to prosecuting all those who are caught..”

11/08/18

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Carlisle taxi driver suspended for "biggest mistake of his life"

http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/Carli ... 181cfd5-ds

He refused a fare from a visually impaired woman and her guide dog

A Carlisle taxi driver has said refusing a fare from a visually-impaired woman and her guide dog was the biggest mistake of his life.

Dilwar Ali had his Hackney carriage driver’s licence suspended for four weeks because he would not take Lydia Hulme and her guide dog Bertie to her Carlisle home on June 26.

He has personally apologised to Miss Hulme and when he came before Carlisle City Council’s regulatory panel he told members: “I’m sorry. It is the biggest mistake I have made in my life and it won’t happen again.”

Miss Hulme, 26, is no stranger to being left standing in the road and had already had a taxi drive off without her from the taxi rank in Warwick Road that evening. She then approached the Court Square taxi rank, near Carlisle Railway Station, at about 10.35pm, where Mr Ali’s white saloon car was first in line.

She reported that he refused to take her and Bertie, stating he had allergies, and so she asked to see an exemption certificate. But she said Mr Ali again stated “allergies” and gestured her to the next taxi.

In an interview with licensing officer Fred Watson, Mr Ali said he refused Miss Hulme because her guide dog was large and he was afraid of big dogs, having been bitten when he was 15.

And when asked if he suffered from any allergies he said he had none. At yesterday’s hearing Mr Ali, who was unrepresented, said Miss Hulme had “mistaken” their short conversation.

When asked by Mr Watson how he could carry on being a taxi driver if he was scared of dogs, Mr Ali explained that he would usually take a fare when there were two people with a dog.

He said he’s now aware of how well trained guide dogs are and that in future he would be confident in taking them.

He was reminded that by law, a taxi driver cannot refuse to carry any pets unless the person in charge of the pet is not in control.

“It’s not a small mistake from my point of view. I realised it was a huge mistake,” Mr Ali told the panel.”

Miss Hulme accepted Mr Ali’s apology and said she forgave him for his actions that night.

But she said: “It’s just upsetting that because I have got my disability, it’s hard to get a taxi.

“I have had taxis drive off before at other ranks across the country and at Carlisle.”

The panel’s chair councillor John Bell explained the reasons for the decision were that it was “unacceptable” for the driver to refuse to convey a passenger or their assistance dog. It was against the law and council policy, he said.

Mr Ali’s offence failed to comply with a duty imposed by the Equality Act 2010 in which a taxi driver must carry the disabled person’s dog and allow it to remain with that person.

“You had received training [a disability awareness course in April 2016] and still refused the fare.

“You have a duty of care and left a passenger late at night vulnerable and potentially unable to get home, so you have been suspended for a month,” said Mr Bell.

10/08/18

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Group of thugs dragged taxi driver from car before stabbing him in the head

https://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yo ... r-15001725

Police are appealing for information on the terrifying attack

A band of thugs dragged a taxi driver from his car before stabbing him in his head.

The 36-year-old victim also received flesh wounds to his arms and legs in the terrifying attack, which unfolded outside the BP garage on Bradford Road, Batley, in the early hours of Friday morning.

The driver was reportedly dragged from the cab before being attacked with a knife in the road. He was then taken to hospital where he now remains in a serious, but stable, condition.

West Yorkshire Police are investigating the horrific attack at 1.50am on Friday. Detectives are following lines of enquiry over reports the men got out of a silver Ford Galaxy and a silver Volkswagen Golf before carrying out the attack.

Anyone who witnessed the assault or who has any information is asked to contact police via 101, quoting crime reference 13180383141. Information can also be passed on anonymously to Crimestoppers via 0800 555 111.

10/08/18

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New taxi ‘super firm’ recruiting 100 drivers across Black Country

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/tra ... k-country/

Taxi drivers are urgently needed across the Black Country as two companies prepare to merge together in a bid to take on Uber.

It was recently revealed that 24 7 Cars and ABC Cars plan to join together to create a 'super firm' of 700 taxis.

And as preparations get underway, 24 7 Cars has planned a recruitment day to sign up 100 new drivers for the firm.

Company director Shahzad Ali said there was a 'greater need and demand' for efficient and reliable taxi service across the Black Country.

He said: "Taxi drivers play a fundamental role in their community, they take the public to their hospital appointments, the school run and everything in-between. It is a rewarding and fulfilling job where you are your own boss.

"As a company we are investing in the training and development of our drivers and are striving to achieve professional levels.

"We have also invested in our customer service centre and technology systems to achieve and deliver a world class customer service.

"We are currently doing about 50,000 journeys a week all around the West Midlands, there is enough demand to double that if we get enough drivers."

24 7 Cars is an independently-owned company but if it merged with ABC Cars would operate under a new name and base, serving Willenhall, Darlaston, Bilston, Wolverhampton, Bloxwich and Walsall.

If the merger goes ahead it is thought that the new business would be one of the biggest 20 private hire firms in the country.

Bosses have said the move would involve a ‘total revamp’ of both companies, with new purpose-built offices under consideration. Both 24 7 and ABC currently have around 300 licensed cars each on the road.

Uber, which allows people to use a mobile phone app to book a taxi, launched in Wolverhampton, Dudley and Walsall in 2016.

All applicants must be 25 years old or above, have had a driving licence for two years, pass police checks and medical, while also having a good knowledge of the area.

The recruitment day will be on Wednesday, August 15 from 10am to 5pm at the Village Hotel, Tempus Drive in Walsall.

10/08/18

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Private hire driver suspended for leaving "inappropriate" message on customer's voicemail

http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/164 ... voicemail/

A TAXI driver has been suspended after leaving an “inappropriate” message on a customer’s voicemail.

Bolton Council’s licensing committee voted to remove his private hire licence for eight weeks after listening to the message and hearing evidence from the licensing officer, complainant and driver.

The complainant, who answered questions from committee members, said she had been offended by the message, which was also heard by her children.

The driver admitted he had left the answerphone message, but claimed his vehicle was “being damaged by children throwing stones” at the time he rang, and the latter part was not directed at her.

He added that he believed he had ended call at the time he was making the remarks.

The committee was unable to decide whether this claim was true or not, but found the driver had already “acted inappropriately” towards the complainant by threatening to have her number banned.

Members also noted that he had shown “no remorse” in this respect.

And they found that, by failing to “behave in an orderly manner and conduct himself with civility and propriety” he had breached the authority’s statement of fitness and suitability for drivers.

It came against the background of two previous complaints of inappropriate behaviour dating back to 2014, which came before the committee in 2015.

A motion for the driver’s licence to be suspended for three months was defeated after only three members of the committee back it.

But the committee then unanimously voted for the licence to be removed for eight weeks on the basis that members were “not satisfied that the driver is a fit and proper person to hold a licence at this time.”

They found that there was “reasonable cause to suspend the private hire driver’s licence as a warning and a deterrent”.

At the same meeting the committee also voted not to renew a separate driver’s private hire licence,.

Private hire vehicles must be booked in advance, but the committee heard the driver had been convicted of “plying for hire” following a prosecution brought by Manchester City Council.

He had also using been a vehicle that was not insured against third-party risk.

The committee did not find his denial of plying for hire to be credible, and also heard he had twice failed to declare his conviction when applying to renew his licence.

Members were “most concerned about the driver’s honesty” and felt he was trying to deceive the committee.

The driver will not be able to reapply for a private hire licence for two years.

08/08/18

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Taxi driver banned over 'shocking' tirade of verbal abuse following fare query

http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/164 ... are-query/

A “DISHONEST” taxi driver has been stripped of his licence after a committee was told he launched a tirade of verbal abuse at a passenger who questioned a fare.

Bolton Council’s Licensing and Regulation committee revoked the driver’s licence with immediate effect after hearing he became aggressive when the fare was queried.

They unanimously found he was “not a fit and proper person to hold a licence” on the grounds of public safety.

The passenger told the committee she was a regular user of the service and knew that the fare being charged was higher than usual.

But when she had queried the amount of money the driver was asking for he lost his temper and subjected her to a “shocking” level of verbal abuse that also caused distress to her mother.

The driver, who was not present at the meeting, had previously admitted to licensing chiefs that he “gets angry and has a temper”, but denied the allegations against him.

However, the committee found the complainant’s account to be “credible” and did not believe the version of events given by the driver at an earlier interview.

The committee felt that the driver had “acted dishonestly in overcharging customers and had acted inappropriately by his abusive manner and language.”

He had not told the truth when interviewed by the Licensing Unit about where he worked and who his employer was, and had also admitted he “gets angry and has a temper”

The panel also heard how he had been sacked by his former employer for his “poor attitude, poor customer service and customer complaints”.

The complaints highlighted by the taxi firm demonstrated he had “developed a pattern of threatening behaviour”.

And the panel also heard the taxi driver had acted in an “aggressive and threatening manner” when the company asked him to return money he still owed and data system equipment belonging to the operator.

The committee also took into account a complaint against the driver dating back to 2016, which resulted in the licensing unit issuing warning about his future conduct.

He had been accused of driving in the wrong lane and deliberately slamming on his brakes in an attempt to cause an accident and make a fraudulent insurance claim.

The committee found that, due to its duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the public, it had “reasonable cause to revoke the private hire driver’s licence with immediate effect.”

08/08/18

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Pregnant drug addict fled maternity unit before threatening to STAB a taxi driver

https://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/news/st ... ty-1842686

Emma Taylor, of Lightwood, escaped from the Royal Stoke University Hospital before taking a taxi to Fenton

Drug addict Emma Taylor has been jailed after she escaped from custody at hospital before threatening a taxi driver with a knife and making off without paying the fare.

The 30-year-old mum-of-two, who is pregnant, was being recalled to prison when she was taken to The Royal Stoke University Hospital because she complained of feeling unwell.

But she managed to escape when she went to the toilet and got in a taxi outside and asked to be taken to an address in Fenton.

She went inside the house and when she did not come out with the fare the cabbie threatened to call the police. She persuaded him not to and asked him to take her to her parents’ address in Lightwood where she said she would get the cash.

But she tried to get out the cab as it was travelling on the A50. The driver persuaded her not to but the defendant produced a Stanley knife and began swinging it the driver's face two or three times. She threatened to stab him if he continued to ask for cash before she got out and left without paying the fare.

Now Taylor has been jailed for 19 months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.

Prosecutor Paul Spratt said the defendant was arrested on June 23 as she was being recalled to prison.

Mr Spratt said: “She was taken to the custody facility and then to hospital. She was five months pregnant, a drug user, and was complaining of being unwell.

“In the maternity unit she escaped via some toilets. She got in a taxi and asked to be taken to Hollings Street, Fenton. He took her there and she said he should wait while she got the money. He waited 10 minutes and on the third occasion he knocked on the door he said he would call the police. She asked him not to and asked him to take her to Ridge Walk, in Lightwood.

“The defendant tried to get out of a moving vehicle on the A50. She was persuaded not to do that. By now, the driver had decided he was taking her to the police station. She produced a Stanley knife and swung it two or three times in the direction of his face.

“She further threatened him, ‘If you keep asking for money I will stab you’.

“She got out of the vehicle and disappeared.”

Taylor was arrested at the Fenton address the next day.

The taxi driver has been left feeling nervous when working.

Taylor, of Ridge Walk, Lightwood, pleaded guilty to escape, threatening another with a knife and making off without payment.

Stephen Hennessey, mitigating, said the defendant has been addicted to heroin and monkey dust. He said: “She has not tried to hide the fact that was her motivation to attempt to escape from custody. She had a £70 a day drug addiction.

“Her behaviour was inexcusable.”

Judge Paul Glenn told Taylor: “You took the opportunity to escape. You boarded a taxi. The driver was persuaded to take you to a second address where you said he would be paid by your parents.

“When it became plain he wasn’t going to be paid he decided to take you to Longton Police Station.

“Matters took a more sinister turn when you made as if you were going to jump out of a moving vehicle. You took out a Stanley knife and swung it two or three times. It is a horrid weapon. He managed to disarm you and you fled from the vehicle.

“The driver feels nervous and worried when carrying out his job. He was vulnerable. People such as taxi drivers, who provided a valuable public service, deserve the courts’ protection.”

07/08/18

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Slightly odd that there's no mention of a wheelchair here, which makes the situation a whole different ball game as opposed to Levi being simply 'disabled', as the article portrays it.

And wouldn't be so sure if he's always 'turned down' simply because he's disabled. Suspect there's some excuse given that may not be entirely truthful, but would be very surprised if he's always simply refused service because he's 'disabled'.

Mother slams taxi services after disabled son is left stranded

http://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/news/ ... -strand

A FRUSTRATED mother has criticised taxi services throughout the town after many of them refused to take her disabled son as part of the fare.

Jacci Michaels' son Levi has cerebral palsy and the family continue to be turned down by taxi companies who claim to accommodate disabled passengers.

Levi, 26, lives at home with his parents and requires constant supervision, as he is without the ability to walk or communicate properly.

On Saturday (July 28), the family went to The British Legion in Tilehurst and spent nearly four hours trying to find a company that would take Levi.

Mrs Michaels said: "I want to know how these companies get their licenses in the first place. They are supposed to provide a service to all people, as well as those who are disabled.

"Levi loves his music and we want him to be involved as much as possible. He should not have to be left out of social events because taxi companies won't accept him.

"They all say they accept disabled passengers on their websites. I called them up [on Saturday] and they said they would be happy to take us to our home and then as soon as you mention that you have a disabled son, they turn you down.

"Judging by the reaction on social media, we are not on our own. I have seen lots of posts from people who have been turned down."

Levi was born with his condition and often has to stay at home with supervision when the family decide to go out for an evening.

His father Sean worked as a taxi driver for 20 years and continues to be disappointed with the quality of services available to his son.

The family, based on Empress Road, Calcot, have approached Reading Borough Council (RBC) to air their concerns about which companies are being given licenses.

A council spokesman added: “It is important that the behaviour of taxi drivers licensed by the council meet the high standards expected and the council takes action when required.

"We are awaiting further information from Mrs Michaels and once received we will investigate the situation further.”

07/08/18

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Manchester driver on trial accused of sexually assaulting passenger he was taking to hospital

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk ... y-14978055

Tariq Ali, 54, denies three counts of sexual assault

A taxi driver is on trial accused of sexually assaulting a passenger he was taking to a hospital appointment.

Tariq Ali, 54, denies three counts of sexual assault.

He says the complainant is making the allegations up.

A Manchester Crown Court trial heard that the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was picked up from her home by Mr Ali, who worked for Cresta Cars.

He was due to take her to North Manchester General Hospital for an appointment, the court heard, where he had taken her to and from a number of times before, the court heard.

The jury was told that on the day of the alleged incident, Mr Ali picked up the woman as usual and began the journey to the hospital.

After trying to sit in the back seat, she moved and sat in the front because the back door was locked, the court heard.

The woman claims that during the journey, Mr Ali touched her inappropriately and made sexual advances towards her.

While they were in the car, she alleges that Mr Ali said ‘you are sexy today’.

She claims that he put hand on her thigh, then on her chest, and that he placed her hand on his crotch over his clothes.

During an interview with police, the woman said that Mr Ali said he wanted to take her to a car park near the hospital for a ‘massage’, the court heard.

She claims he parked in a car park near the hospital for a couple of minutes.

After parking up she was ‘begging’ Mr Ali to take her to the hospital for her appointment, prosecutor Gavin Howie said.

He then took her to the hospital, the court heard.

Mr Ali allegedly said he would come and collect her and they could go to the car park after the appointment.

When she arrived she told hospital staff about what she alleges happened.

Mr Ali was arrested later that day, jurors heard.

The court heard he told police it was the woman who initiated contact and that he refused her.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Mr Howie said: “Mr Ali took advantage of her vulnerability in those particular circumstances.

“She says she didn’t want or invite or want this attention from Mr Ali.”

Mr Ali, of Lidiard Street, Crumpsall, accepts he was the taxi driver, but denies the allegations and claims it was the woman who ‘tried it on with him’.

PROCEEDING.

05/08/18

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How rogue taxi driver conned customers when working

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bris ... ed-1861116

Another driver had his new licence refused after two incidents of road rage

A rogue hackney cab driver has been suspended for six months after being caught not using a meter and overcharging customers.

Another driver was banned from renewing his licence after two incidents of road rage.

Undercover officers also sanctioned two other private hire motorists during their investigations.

Bristol Neighbourhood Enforcement Team, which is run by the council, posted on its Facebook page: "A Hackney Carriage Driver (HCD) was suspended for 6 months for not using a meter within the prescribed area of Bristol and he was also found to have overcharged customers.

"He was deemed not fit and proper to hold a HCD licence He does have a right to appeal…

"Members of the Committee also refused to renew a Private Hire Driver licence held by a Bristol taxi driver following two incidents of road rage."

A former taxi driver called for the team to work during the night when most taxi offences are committed.

Andy Slver tweeted: "This is all well and good, but its not enough. The enforcement team should be out late. I used to drive Hackneys in Bristol. on one occasion I was driving up Park St when a couple flagged me down, a private hire pulled in front and stopped!!!! I had words but he still argued!"

05.08.18

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Council bosses have been urged to re-think the “shambolic” taxi rank outside Dundee’s new-look railway station.

A union boss claims fed-up cab drivers have been beset with problems since the new entrance opened its doors last month.

Confusion has arisen over the rank being used as a drop-off point, leading to congestion at peak times.

And it has been claimed that drivers are now boycotting the station rank in favour of Nethergate because of the problems.

Chris Elder, taxi driver representative for the Unite union, wants Dundee City Council and ScotRail to take their concerns seriously.

He said: “They’ve got that rank in completely the wrong place.

“There are people coming to the very front of the rank to drop people off but there’s no drop-off point.

“That’s causing major problems for the guys down there.

“We’ve got a taxi liaison meeting soon with the council and we’ll certainly be making it known.

“It’s shambolic.

“The place is chock-a-block with cars and I see they’ve put a bus stop right at the front of the entrance, so I don’t know how that is going to work.”

Thousands of extra visitors have made their way through Dundee’s station since the new building opened on July 9.

ScotRail reported a 16% increase in the number of passengers travelling to and from the city in the period July 9-29. This saw an approximate rise of 16,000 passengers in the same period, with The Open in Carnoustie said to be a contributing factor.

But with V&A Dundee expected to welcome thousands more when it opens in September, Mr Elder believes the problem will only worsen if it is not addressed.

He added: “They haven’t thought this through and they really need to start taking this on board because we’ve got guys who are boycotting it and taking their cars up to the Nethergate.

“Passengers are walking up there anyway because it’s taking too long to go from the station and that’s money out of their pocket.

“All of this is happening before the V&A opens as well. If it’s as busy as it is just now, just imagine what it’s going to be like a couple of months from now.”

A spokesman for Dundee City Council said: “We are monitoring the situation.”

03/08/18

****************************************************

Manchester driver on trial accused of sexually assaulting passenger he was taking to hospital

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk ... y-14978055

Tariq Ali, 54, denies three counts of sexual assault

A taxi driver is on trial accused of sexually assaulting a passenger he was taking to a hospital appointment.

Tariq Ali, 54, denies three counts of sexual assault.

He says the complainant is making the allegations up.

A Manchester Crown Court trial heard that the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was picked up from her home by Mr Ali, who worked for Cresta Cars.

He was due to take her to North Manchester General Hospital for an appointment, the court heard, where he had taken her to and from a number of times before, the court heard.

The jury was told that on the day of the alleged incident, Mr Ali picked up the woman as usual and began the journey to the hospital.

After trying to sit in the back seat, she moved and sat in the front because the back door was locked, the court heard.

The woman claims that during the journey, Mr Ali touched her inappropriately and made sexual advances towards her.

While they were in the car, she alleges that Mr Ali said ‘you are sexy today’.

She claims that he put hand on her thigh, then on her chest, and that he placed her hand on his crotch over his clothes.

During an interview with police, the woman said that Mr Ali said he wanted to take her to a car park near the hospital for a ‘massage’, the court heard.

She claims he parked in a car park near the hospital for a couple of minutes.

After parking up she was ‘begging’ Mr Ali to take her to the hospital for her appointment, prosecutor Gavin Howie said.

He then took her to the hospital, the court heard.

Mr Ali allegedly said he would come and collect her and they could go to the car park after the appointment.

When she arrived she told hospital staff about what she alleges happened.

Mr Ali was arrested later that day, jurors heard.

The court heard he told police it was the woman who initiated contact and that he refused her.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Mr Howie said: “Mr Ali took advantage of her vulnerability in those particular circumstances.

“She says she didn’t want or invite or want this attention from Mr Ali.”

Mr Ali, of Lidiard Street, Crumpsall, accepts he was the taxi driver, but denies the allegations and claims it was the woman who ‘tried it on with him’.

01/08/18

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South Northants-licensed PH driver working in Milton Keynes caught plying for hire twice in one night had previous plying for hire form and licence revocation for insurance fraud

https://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/out ... -1-8586596

A previously convicted private hire driver has been successfully prosecuted after being caught twice in the one night illegally picking up passengers - plying for hire (known as ‘blagging’) - in Milton Keynes.

MK Magistrates heard the case on Monday (July 30, 2018), which followed a joint enforcement operation carried out by Milton Keynes and South Northamptonshire Councils in October 2017.

Yasir Mahmood of Austin Road, Luton attended court and pleaded not guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance on two separate occasions in October 2017.

After a trial he was found guilty and fined £100 for each plying for hire offence and £200 for each invalid motor insurance offence. He was disqualified from driving (DVLA driver licence) for four months and also has to pay costs of £650, with a victim surcharge of £30.

At the time of the offences his vehicle was operated by Speedline. Mr Mahmood is currently licensed by SNC who will take appropriate action concerning his Private Hire/Hackney Carriage driver licence.

The court heard that on 22 October 2017 Taxi Licensing Officers from Milton Keynes and South Northants Councils, acting as members of the public, engaged Mr Mahmood on two separate journeys, which had not been pre-booked, from one location to another in Milton Keynes.

Council officers did not alert any driver during the evening, including Mr Mahmood, that they were conducting test purchase checks which would explain why Mr Mahmood was caught twice in the one evening.

Further investigation showed that Mr Mahmood’s vehicle was not insured for these journeys.

Mr Mahmood was previously prosecuted by Milton Keynes Council in 2010 for the same offences and was permitted to keep his licence by SNC, but with the addition of penalty points.

However later that year SNC revoked his licence for insurance fraud. In 2012 Mr Mahmood re-applied to SNC for his driver licence and it was granted.

Cllr Catriona Morris, Chair of the MKC’s Taxi Licensing Committee, said:“Once again this is another case that further illustrates the problem of illegal plying for hire or ‘blagging’ that is going on in Milton Keynes. This driver has now been successfully prosecuted on two occasions by Milton Keynes Council for the same set of offences.

“I would hope that this case sends a further powerful message to all licensed drivers that if you illegally ply for hire you will be caught and prosecuted.

“The offences of illegally plying for hire and no insurance are serious and put passenger safety at risk if an accident occurs.

“Our ongoing test purchase programme and zero tolerance approach to drivers who illegally ply for hire in Milton Keynes will therefore continue. I would like to thank South Northants Council for their support in these joint operations.”

01/08/18

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Taxi drivers caught breaking the law in Birmingham

https://planetradio.co.uk/free/local/ne ... irmingham/

People in Birmingham are being warned not to get into private hire taxis without booking first.

Image

Image: Free Radio News

Exclusive figures seen by Free Radio show 50 drivers were caught illegally plying for hire in the city last year.

In rare cases, it can put customers at increased risk of sexual assault because there's no trace of the journey, making it difficult for police to track down offenders.

It also invalidates the driver's insurance, making it more difficult for passengers to get a payout from an insurance company if they're involved in a crash.

Our reporter Laura Chiverton went along to a licensing op in Birmingham, led by PC Dave Humpherson.

Undercover officers pose as customers to catch private hire drivers who are breaking the law.

One driver who was caught by the team told us:

"I know I broke the law and I have to face up to it, but with what Uber do in the city we have to provide food for our kids and pay their rent, so we have to do something.

"For example now I'm renting this car for £200 pounds a week and on top of that I have to pay £100 for petrol. I'm working, do you believe or not, I work 14, 15, 13 hour days seven days a week."

When asked by our reporter whether he would take the risk and pick up customers again he said:

"Really not. Some people advise me not to do that but this isn't the first time or the last time, this is life's risk."

He and two other drivers who were caught plying for hire that night are now facing fines of between £400 and £2,000 and could lose their licences.

Last year 16 Hackney carriage and private hire drivers were revoked and a further 19 were suspended.

PC Dave Humpherson said: "Companies will not employ drivers if the work isn't there for them so there is sufficient amount of work for these drivers to legally get worked passed to them by an operator."

He added: "Now these drivers are working long hours throughout the week, my personal feeling is they're working sufficient enough money.

"They do not need to go out and do illegal activity to make more money. I personally feel it's just greed."

Traffic enforcement officers are also on these operations to carry out stop checks on all taxis - black cabs and private hires.

Last year 21 vehicles were suspended by DVSA because they weren't roadworthy.

Top  

01/08/18

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New DNA match sees rapist Telford taxi driver jailed for 1989 crime

https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/cri ... 989-crime/

A cab driver who raped a teenager in Shropshire almost 30 years ago after she asked him for help has been jailed for 10 years.

Irvine Watt, aged 64, was found guilty of the rape which took place in May 1989, when he attacked a woman in his taxi.

He had earlier been charged with rape in September 1989, but was acquitted due to a lack of forensic evidence.

However, new technology was brought into play in 2014 and fresh evidence was brought against Watt.

Stafford Crown Court heard that Watt, of New Road, Wrockwardine Wood, Telford, raped a 17-year-old girl who had missed her train stop.

He was found guilty and sentenced yesterday.

The court heard the victim was travelling from Shrewsbury to Wellington, but missed her stop and got off at Telford.

With no ticket or money, she approached Watt, who was 35 at the time and working as a black cab driver, and explained the situation.

He offered to drive her to Wellington but instead took her to a field and raped her.

Watt then drove the girl back to Telford railway station and gave her £1.70 for a ticket back to Shrewsbury.

She told her family and then the police.

Watt was originally acquitted in September of that year due to lack of forensic evidence, but a review of the evidence in 2014 found a DNA match and the matter came before the Court of Appeal under the rarely-used ‘double jeopardy’ legislation.

Watt was charged with rape and attempted rape and was found guilty and sentenced yesterday.

Robin Allen, District Crown Prosecutor with the West Midlands CPS Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit, praised the victim for her courage.

He added: “I would like to first thank the victim for her courage and support in this case which has assisted us in bringing this dangerous sexual predator to justice.

“For nearly 30 years Irvine Watt had thought that he had escaped justice, however, through new forensic techniques, we were able to match the defendant’s DNA to the 1989 rape.

“The prosecution team were able to use this key piece of evidence to reopen the case, make an application to quash the previous acquittal and order a retrial resulting in today’s successful conviction.”

01/08/18

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Wakefield drivers lose licence after criminal convictions

https://www.pontefractandcastlefordexpr ... -1-9279513

A total of 21 taxi drivers in Wakefield have had their licence removed during the past four years after being convicted of criminal offences.

Details from a Freedom of Information request revealed that distributing indecent images of children, intending to supply Class A drugs and wounding with intent were among the reasons drivers were stripped of their licences between 2014 and 2017.

Drivers operating with a licence from Wakefield Council must inform them if they receive a conviction, caution, warning or reprimand. The local authority then decides whether or not to remove their licence.

Thirteen of the drivers lost their job over motoring offences, including seven who had been disqualified from driving.

Others were prosecuted for having no insurance and having too many points on their licence, while three were convicted of plying for hire. This relates to private hire vehicles picking up passengers from a rank or on a roadside after they are hailed, which they are not allowed to do.

The Wakefield Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Drivers Association, which speaks for most local cabbies, said the figures represented a very small proportion of drivers.

Co-chairman of the group, Wajid Ali, said: “Whilst we represent the majority of the licensees, not all licensees are part of the trade association. 21 drivers in three years is only 1.4 per cent (of the workforce).

“If these individuals had their licence removed due to public safety, then rightly so. Criminals should not hold licences.”

Councils in West Yorkshire are currently trying to agree on one set of regulations for taxi drivers which would cover the whole region, as they try to improve safeguarding.

Although the chair of Wakefield’s licensing commitee, Coun Martyn Johnson said at a meeting last month that he wants to work with cabbies, relations between drivers and the local council remain strained.

Drivers threatened to stage a ‘go slow’ protest earlier this year over tough new rules on emissions, which could force any cab made before September 2016 off Wakefield’s roads.

Meanwhile, rudeness, overcharging and using a phone while driving were among the reasons passengers complained about their taxi driver between 2014 and 2017.

A total of 573 complaints were made to Wakefield Council during the four years about private hire vehicles and Hackney carriages.

The most recent complaint on record was made on July 13 this year, and related to an incident where a driver allegedly grabbed a girl’s arm.

In numbers – what have drivers lost their licence for?

Being disqualified from driving – 7

Plying for hire – 3

Having nine or more points on licence – 2

Wounding with intent – 2

Perverting the course of justice – 2

No insurance – 1

Distributing indecent photographs and making indecent images of children – 1

Possess with intent to supply Class A drugs – 1

01/08/18

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Southend taxi driver terrorised by armed moped gang

http://www.clactonandfrintongazette.co. ... -a-hamm

A TAXI driver was terrorised by an armed moped gang wielding a hammer.

Southend driver Shamim Alom had dropped off a fare at the garrison in Shoebury and was making his way back to the town centre when he noticed two mopeds were following him on Saturday night.

He said: “There were two people on each moped then one of them overtook me and I narrowly missed him so I beeped my horn and as I did he started to slow down while the other one pulled up beside me.

“They began gesturing at me to pull over and I could see the passenger was holding a hammer.

“I realised something was wrong. I spend a lot of time on the roads and have witnessed and been part of many incidents of road rage but nothing like this.”

Mr Alom decided to try and shake them off but failed and resolved to drive to Southend police station in Victoria Avenue.

The 45-year-old, who works for AC Taxis and has driven for nine years, added: “As I turned into Lifstan Way, I clipped one and he came off.

"I didn’t wait around to see if they were okay as I could see the other one coming at me full speed and I thought about stopping at the office in Chase Road.

"I turned onto Ambleside Drive and heard a loud thud on the back of the cab so I carried on to the station.

"When I stopped at a set of traffic lights they caught up to me and I heard another loud thud.

"I looked back and they had smashed me rear windscreen before I saw the hammer come through the rear passenger window.

“It was absolutely terrifying. I’m still shaken and haven’t returned to work.

"I will obviously have to go back at some point because everyone needs to earn a living but it is very worrying.

"Who knows what would have happened if they had caught me."

The incident was reported to police.

A spokesman said: "We were called at around 3.40am on Sunday, July 29 with reports a man had had the windscreen of his car damaged.

"He reports two people on motorbikes had damaged his windscreen with what has been described as a hammer in Queensway.

The man then drove off.

"If you saw or heard anything or have any other information about the incident please call us on 101 quoting incident 231 of 29/07 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

Mr Alom said: “Police need to find the culprits before it turns into London.”

31/07/18

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-44977752

Five people were killed and several others injured when a minibus and 4x4 crashed in Moray.

The collision happened on the A96, three miles from Keith, on the road to Huntly, at about 23:40 on Thursday.

Police said one of the injured had "potentially life-threatening injuries".

The Scottish Ambulance Service said six casualties were taken to various hospitals for treatment, one being airlifted by a coastguard helicopter.

The Scottish Ambulance Service said one patient was taken airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, three were transferred by road to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, a further patient taken to Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin and a child transferred to Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital.

The road remained closed overnight, and the vehicles were being removed before 10:00.

The A96 re-opened shortly before 13:00.

31/07/18

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London cab drivers plot £1bn class action claim against Uber

https://news.sky.com/story/london-cab-d ... r-11447093

The Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association has engaged Mishcon de Reya to examine a legal claim against Uber, Sky News learns.

London's army of black cab drivers are drawing up a stunning plot to sue Uber for more than £1bn - weeks after the ride-hailing app won a 15-month extension to its licence to operate in the capital.

Sky News has learnt that the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA), which has 11,000 members in London, has engaged the leading law firm Mishcon de Reya to explore the potential for a massive legal claim against Uber.

Sources said on Tuesday that if the case proceeded, the LTDA was expected to argue that all 25,000 black cab drivers in London had suffered lost earnings averaging around £10,000 for at least five years as a consequence of failings in the way Uber had operated.

At that level, the overall compensation bill could total £1.25bn.

People close to the situation cautioned that the LTDA could decide against proceeding with a formal claim and that there was no certainty that one would succeed.

The prospective legal action follows a decision last month by Westminster Magistrates' Court to overturn a ban on Uber imposed by Transport for London late last year.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, had argued that Uber was not "a fit and proper" holder of such a licence amid flaws in the way it conducted background checks on drivers and reported suspected offences by them to the police.

Since then, Uber has made wholesale changes to the way its business in London is run, including proactively reporting driver offences.

It has also appointed a slate of independent directors in an attempt to improve corporate governance.

If it proceeds, the LTDA's legal claim would be the most stunning salvo to date in a protracted battle between black cab drivers and Uber - two sides of an industry which reflect the ways in which technology is disrupting some of the world's most entrenched workforces.

Sources said the LTDA was in initial talks with potential funders of its claim, including Harbour Litigation Funding, which describes itself as the UK's largest provider of financing for legal cases.

Other firms are also understood to be holding talks with the LTDA, with the eventual funder receiving a slice of any compensation awarded.

In a statement issued in response to an enquiry from Sky News, Steve McNamara, general secretary of the LTDA, said: "We've been approached by a number of members to help them explore whether there would be grounds for a potential class action on behalf of all taxi drivers against Uber.

"We are in the very early stages of obtaining legal advice from leading law firm Mishcon de Reya on whether this is a possibility.

"We'll continue to do everything we can to support our members and taxi drivers across London by exploring every avenue to ensure they are treated fairly."

Responding to last month's decision to extend Uber's London licence, Mr McNamara said the company's appeal had exposed its "blatant disregard for TfL's regulations and public safety".

He added: "When TfL's lawyers grilled Uber on its handling of the 2016 data breach and its shocking failure to report sexual assaults to the police, Uber just blamed its tainted past on its former leadership.

"The justice system has failed Londoners today and let an aggressive multinational corporation win.

"Uber is not a fit and proper operator and the LTDA will be consulting its lawyers as to how we can hold it to account and keep streets safe for Londoners".

The continued ability to operate in London, one of its biggest global markets, was seen as vital for Uber as it proceeds towards an initial public offering of its shares in New York sometime next year.

Uber was understood to be unaware of the LTDA's prospective legal claim until the company was approached by Sky News on Tuesday morning.

The ride-hailing app is used by more than 3.5 million Londoners, with 45,000 self-employed drivers working for the company.

Like Deliveroo, Uber has found itself at the centre of a political firestorm over its treatment of its workforce amid calls for tougher regulation of the so-called "gig economy".

When Uber was stripped of its licence, pending the subsequent appeal, the QC hired by the company to fight the ban said: "We accept TfL's decision in September was the right decision based on evidence at the time.

"TfL had considerable concerns about [Uber's] fitness that warranted its refusal to renew.

"[This has] led to wholesale change."

31/07/18

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City of Wolverhampton Council hits back over Bolton councillor Nick Peel's taxi licensing criticism

http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/163 ... criticism/

THE City of Wolverhampton Council has hit back at criticism levelled by a Bolton councillor over the body’s licensing of taxis.

The response comes after Bolton Council's executive member for environmental services Nick Peel, this week, called on the Government to close a “dangerous” legal loophole allowing private hire vehicles licensed by other local authorities to operate on the streets of Bolton and Greater Manchester.

Cllr Peel said that the licensing operation of The City of Wolverhampton Council has caused “a lot of concern” at Bolton Council, adding that it is “wrong” if drivers who have their licenses revoked in the town can “go to another authority with a lower standard and then come to Bolton”.

His comments follow reports last year that councillors in the West Midlands had criticised The City of Wolverhampton Council for operating a “more lenient” licensing system for private hire drivers.

The councillors claimed that cabbies were heading to the area due to these circumstances, allegedly undermining public safety in the region.

The situation is also thought to have resulted in hundreds perhaps thousands of taxi and private hire vehicle drivers licensed in Wolverhampton working on the streets of other towns and cities including in Bolton and Greater Manchester.

Cllr Peel said: “This is a problem and it’s happening all over Greater Manchester.

“We have been calling for the Government to introduce new rules to say that you can only be licensed by the authority in the area that you live or by neighbouring authorities, or that there is national minimum standard that applies. Because unless they do something about this the loophole will continue to be ruthlessly exploited.”

“This has made us the licensing authority of choice for many drivers. We are not exploiting any loopholes, the Deregulation Act changed the way people can apply for licences.

“We have a robust and thorough assessment process which is as good as anywhere in the country.

“It is unfortunate that other councils continue to criticise us, it seems to me they are trying to deflect attention away for their failure to modernise and keep pace with a changing industry.

“I would urge anyone with any concerns to come and talk to us about what we do.”

However Cllr Peel further criticised Wolverhampton Council for their desire for speed and popularity in relation to licensing, adding that the lengthier time taken by Bolton Council to process licences comes from an effort to gather increased information about driver suitability.

He said: “The primary purpose of a Licensing Authority is public safety, not a quick turnaround of processing new applications.

"The so-called red tape that is mentioned includes, in Bolton’s case, the fact that we liaise with the police on a regular basis, which often brings new information to the attention of our licensing authority that could question the suitability of the driver. If this makes the processing system longer, then it is a price worth paying.

"There seems to be no logical reason for any licensing authority wishing to be the “licensing authority of choice” for all drivers throughout Britain, often including those drivers that have been refused a license in their home towns. Bolton residents should rightly expect that the taxi they get into in Bolton is licensed by Bolton, or a neighbouring authority, not one that is located 90 miles away.

"In addition, licensing fees cannot be an income generator for a local council, as they must legally only cover the cost of that service, and the account should not seek to create a surplus by attracting new applicants.”

Responding to Cllr Peel’s comments, Councillor Alan Bolshaw, chairman of City of Wolverhampton Council’s licensing committee, said: “We have the best licensing system in the country, we have utilised technology to cut out needless red tape and bureaucracy meaning that we have reduced the amount of time it takes to process licence applications.

29/07/18

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Man kidnapped on Broad Street in brutal fake taxi robbery

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/m ... l-14959151

Police are hunting four men suspected of withdrawing funds and using the stolen cards

A fake Birmingham taxi driver kidnapped a lone reveller, before forcing him to hand over his bank card and PIN

Police officers are appealing for information after the suspect drove up to the 29-year-old man on Broad Street.

He offered him a lift for £10 and the victim jumped in, believing it was a taxi.

But, instead of being taken home, he was plied with whiskey and cigarettes and bundled into a second car, where he was attacked by four men.

He was threatened and forced to hand over his phone, bank cards, PIN number and personal banking details.

After picking him up around 4am on Sunday, June 24, the men drove him around the city before kicking him out and leaving him to find his own way home with no cash, and no means of contacting family and friends.

As soon as he could, he reported the incident to police.

As a result of extensive enquires and a large scale CCTV operation, police are desperately searching for the suspects.

Officers have released images of four men they want to trace in connection with the incident.

Image

Image: West Midlands Police

DC Andrew Reid, who is investigating the case said: "Although offences like this are extremely rare, there is always a risk when approaching taxis on the street or getting into a taxi that has approached you.

"Many people may not know this, but if a driver asks if you require a taxi they’re actually committing a criminal offence.

"The safest way to use a private hire taxi is to book directly with a reputable private hire operator via phone, app, online or in person.

"This guarantees you will be driven by a licensed, insured driver in a licensed, insured vehicle.

"You can also use a licensed hackney carriage which is licensed within the area you are in.

"If there are any problems there will be a record of your journey, your driver and the vehicle used which means they can be traced if needed."

Anyone who recognises these men are asked to contact West Midlands Police on 101 ext. 845 6210. To remain anonymous please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Those with information about what happened are asked to contact West Midlands Police on 101, or Crimestoppers quoting crime number 20BW/143729W/18.

29/07/18

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Bolton taxi driver who scared lone female passengers banned by licensing chiefs

http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/163 ... ng-chiefs/

A TAXI driver has had his licence taken away due to a series of complaints about his “inappropriate behaviour” towards lone female passengers.

Bolton Council licensing chiefs revoked the private hire licence with immediate effect after finding he was “not a fit and proper person” to hold it.

The sensitive cases sub-committee heard evidence from four witnesses and the licensing officer. They were also privy to an email police sent to the authority in connection with one of the complaints.

The panel heard evidence that, in April this year, the driver took one of the women home via “a long route through dark streets”. During the journey he asked her personal questions to which she did not reply , making her feel “scared, uncomfortable and panicked.”

The witness told the panel he had made inappropriate comments and kept the doors of the taxi locked despite her paying the fare and asking to leave.

And the panel also heard how the driver had later contacted the passenger via her Instagram account, despite the fact she had “made it clear” she did not like people she did not know contacting her.

The incident left the woman “very frightened” and the police contacted the council’s licensing unit about the driver’s conduct.

The sub-committee found the driver’s claims that he had not taken a longer route and that the passenger had invited him to follow her Instagram account “lacked credibility”. Members were undecided if he had locked the car, but accepted the passenger felt concerned for her safety “due to his earlier conduct during the journey.”

A further complainant said the driver had spoken to her in an “inappropriate way” and text her to ask her out for a meal.

And another lone woman said the driver had asked her to go out with him, and said a number of “disturbing things” , including asking her to go to a party at his house and offering drugs if she did so.

The driver also text her later - despite the fact she had refused to share her number - and continued to press her to go out with him. She said this made her feel uncomfortable.

And, on a second journey, he continued to make “inappropriate” comments and suggestions, leading to his sacking by the operator. She said she was left "very anxious about taxi drivers."

Minutes from the interviewed conducted by the operator revealed he asked for two complaints to be hidden from licensing chiefs.

Two of the witnesses said they believed this was an attempt at a "cover up".

29/07/18

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South Northamptonshire driver caught driving suspended vehicle in Milton Keynes

https://www.mkfm.com/news/local-news/ta ... cle-in-mk/

A private hire driver has been prosecuted after being caught using his suspended private hire vehicle in Milton Keynes.

MK Magistrates’ heard the case yesterday (26 July 2018) following taxi enforcement patrol work conducted at CMK Train Station on 29 November 2017.

Junaid Yaqoob of Green Keepers Road, Great Denham, Bedford attended court and pleaded guilty to using an unlicensed vehicle and driving without valid motor insurance on 3 occasions in November 2017. He was fined £211 for using an unlicensed vehicle and £635 for invalid insurance. He was also given 6 DVLA penalty points and has to pay costs of £900 with a victim surcharge of £63.

At the time of the offences his vehicle was operated by Speedline. Mr Yaqoob is currently licensed by South Northamptonshire District Council, which will take appropriate action concerning his licence.

The court heard that on 29 November 2017 an MK Council Taxi Patrol Officer was on duty at the CMK Train Station when he conducted a compliance check on Mr Yaqoob’s vehicle. During the inspection he noted that the brake light was not working and issued a written notice to Mr Yaqoob suspending the vehicle for use as a private hire vehicle. The patrol officer advised Mr Yaqoob that the vehicle could no longer be used to provide private hire services until the defect was repaired and then presented to South Northants Council who would inspect the vehicle and lift the suspension.

Later that day the patrol officer saw Mr Yaqoob’s vehicle again at the CMK Train Station and noted that the defective brake light had not been repaired.

The patrol officer then obtained booking records from operator Speedline who confirmed that Mr Yaqoob’s vehicle had completed three private hire bookings after the patrol officer had suspended his vehicle.

Cllr Catriona Morris, Chair of the Council’s Taxi Licensing Committee, said:

“This case further illustrates the on-going problem of cross-border hiring where vehicles and drivers licensed by other councils work in Central Milton Keynes on a daily basis.

“However, Milton Keynes and South Northants councils worked closely in sharing powers and information in order to effectively prosecuting Mr Yaqoob.

“I would like to specifically commend our Taxi Patrol Officer for his vigilant work at the CMK Train station in identifying this defective vehicle, taking appropriate action, and then having the awareness to realise that this vehicle was continuing to work and therefore placing the safety of MK residents at risk.

“This result will hopefully send a strong message to all drivers who want to ignore Council Officers as they will be caught and prosecuted.”

29/07/18

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Taxi crackdown in Pendle sees more than half fail checks

http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/ne ... il-checks/

TAXIS have been taken off the road during a council and police crackdown which saw more than half fail checks.

Of the 19 taxi vehicles checked, only nine passed the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency standard MOT test.

The checks were carried out last week by two neighbourhood policing teams from Nelson in a joint operation with DVSA and Pendle Council taxi licensing staff.

Officers have warned taxi drivers of the consequences of driving taxis with faults.

A police spokesman said: “These checks will carried out more often, so if you choose to run the risk of driving taxis with issues, prepare for the consequences.”

PC Nigel Keates, of Colne and West Craven Police, welcomed the crackdown.

He said: “The safety of passengers is extremely important.

“How many times have we had to have these operations? But they are necessary of course.

“I support the council’s actions in clamping down on the taxi firms who don’t ensure the necessary safety checks are carried out."

Last year, the Lancashire Telegraph reported on spot checks on taxis in Pendle, which saw almost half the vehicles checked failing inspections.

A multi-agency team including Pendle Council’s taxi enforcement department and the police, tested 14 private hire and Hackney taxis, with six failing the spot checks.

Safety issues included brake lights or indicator faults, tyre tread depth faults, steering play issues and ball joints or suspension type faults.

Neil Watson, planning, building control and licensing manager at Pendle Council, said: “The safety of the public when using taxis is the number one issue.

“The failure rate has improved but in this latest check more than 50 per cent of vehicles failed the test which is not acceptable."

29/07/18

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Almost one in six taxi drivers licensed in Derby has a criminal conviction

https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/d ... rs-1822097

The city council currently licenses 1,273 drivers

More than 200 taxi drivers licensed in Derby have a criminal conviction, Derbyshire Live can reveal.

A Freedom of Information request has found Derby City Council allow 215 drivers with previous convictions to hold either a private hire or hackney carriage licence which is needed to operate a taxi in the city.

According to the request response, the city council currently licenses 1,273 cabbies, which means that almost one in six of them hold a criminal conviction.

Out of the 215, 161 private hire drivers have a conviction against their name compared to 54 hackney carriage drivers.

The Derbyshire Live Freedom of Information request found that, in the last three years, 22 drivers have lost their licence down to wrong-doing, criminal convictions or motoring offences.

Out of the 22 who lost their licence, eight lost theirs in the year following April 2017 and two private hire drivers had previous complaints lodged about them before their licence was revoked.

The new figures come after the council introduced a new penalty points system for drivers back in July 2017.

Criminal offences by taxi drivers accrue points depending on the crime and how long ago it was committed.

A meeting of the council’s licensing committee on July 5 added new offences to the penalty points list. These include urinating in public and dishonesty offences.

A driver can have up to 12 penalty points before their licence is revoked. Drivers can also earn points by failing to provide a new address and having a dirty vehicle.

Serious convictions such as murder, arson, and sexual offences always mean that a driver will not be able to apply for a licence.

But convictions such as violent disorder and theft from a vehicle do not rule a driver out of getting a licence depending on when the offence was committed.

Derbyshire Live previous reported how a Derby taxi driver, who was licensed by Erewash Borough Council, had three previous complaints made about him before being involved in a street brawl.

The driver tried to appeal the decision but eventually lost his licence.

Councillor Mick Barker, chair of the city council’s licensing committee, told Derbyshire Live he believed that council had “weeded out” those who have committed serious or sexual offences.

He said: “I was critical of the penalty points system to begin with but now I believe that we have one of the most robust and safe systems in the country.

“We have made sure that high standards have been ensured by drivers licensed by the council but I do believe the problem isn’t this council but Government legislation.

“Any driver can come to Derby City Council, be refused a licence and then go to either Gedling or Erewash to apply for a licence with those council’s having no idea that they had been refused a licence. It’s current legislation that allows drivers to exploit these loopholes.

"If we have that many drivers licensed in Derby who hold a criminal conviction, I would hate to think how many drivers outside the city have them and what they have done."

26/07/18

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Reading PHV drivers who refused to take blind passengers set for punishment

http://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/news/ ... guide-dog/

Image

Photo shows Mr Chawama, Council Licensing Officer, Mr Clive Wood with Winne the guide dog (middle) and Mrs Butler, Council Licensing Officer (Image: Reading Chronicle)

TWO TAXI drivers who refused to accept a fare by blind passengers are set to be reprimanded by the borough council.

A string operation involving a blind customer and a guide dog was carried out to test taxi drivers around the town.

It consisted of the blind person with a dog and a second sighted person asking for a journey from The Penta Hotel to Reading Station and back.

Of the five hackney carriage and five private hire vehicles tested, two private hire drivers refused to take the guide dogs as part of the fare.

Clive Wood, engagement officer for Guide Dogs Reading, said: "Guide Dogs are pleased to work in partnership with Reading Borough Council to raise awareness amongst the Reading taxi community on the legal requirement to allow guide dogs in their vehicles. There are still a significant number of guide dog owners being refused access to taxis across the UK and we welcome any initiative to stop this. We also know that there are many taxi drivers who provide a great service to blind and partially sighted people, including guide dog owners and we hope this will be the norm very soon.”

The council confirmed formal action will be taken against the two drivers who refused to take the fare.

Cllr Tony Page, deputy leader, added: "Both hackney carriage and private hire drivers have a responsibility to accept fares requested by blind passengers with guide dogs and I am pleased that eight out of the ten taxi drivers accepted the fares. Formal action will now be taken against the two private hire drivers who refused on the basis they would not carry the assistance dogs in their vehicles. All drivers should also be aware similar test purchases will take place in the future.”

The other eight drivers who were tested all accepted the fare.

26/07/18

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Huge shake-up to Manchester's taxis could see city with New York-style cabs

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk ... s-14886890

Council bosses want taxis in the region to be safer, greener, more consistent - and to become part of Greater Manchester’s identity, as in the Big Apple

Taxis across the region could be in line for a radical shake-up as the mayor looks to make them safer, greener, more consistent - and distinctively Manc.

A common livery could be created and rolled out across the conurbation, with bosses looking to New York’s yellow cabs for inspiration.

They want taxis in every borough to be recognisable as from the region - and become part of Greater Manchester’s identity, as in the Big Apple.

Mayor Andy Burnham is preparing to consult with the public and the trade about bringing in a uniform ‘minimum standard’ for both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles.

It is understood that would look at standardised rules for drivers, as well as operators, vehicles and enforcement practices across each of the ten councils.

That could include tougher thresholds around driver qualifications and prior convictions, as well as on the age and emissions levels of individual cabs.

Shared practice among the ten council panels who decide on the region’s licenses could also be introduced.

The process is expected to be rolled out slowly over several years, due to the ongoing issue of drivers from other local authorities crossing the border and undermining standards.

The problem has long been a major bugbear of many councils - and local firms - that require new legislation to solve.

Town hall bosses have been discussing the plans in private for several months and are said to be broadly in agreement that a common approach should be considered.

Senior figures at several town halls across Greater Manchester told the M.E.N. they were in favour of the move in principle.

A ‘high level’ paper on the issue is expected to go before the region’s combined authority at the end of the month, followed by discussions with the trade and a public consultation.

One senior town hall figure said there was ‘an aspiration’ that at some point every borough in the region would operate to standardised minimum rules, but added that could take five to ten years to roll out.

“Drivers, vehicles, operators and licensing authorities would eventually have minimum standards,” they said of the plans.

“But because primary legislation from parliament would also be needed to deal with the drivers coming in from other areas, it’s a bit up in the air whether you could do it before that or not.

“You could start it off, though, perhaps with the livery first.”

It is understood Mr Burnham wants to step up lobbying of both Whitehall and the Local Government Association over the issue of de-regulation, which currently means drivers are free to come in from authorities elsewhere that have less stringent licensing rules.

In the past Rossendale, Sefton and Wolverhampton councils have all been particularly criticised for having lax regimes that are then exported to other parts of the country.

Rossendale has tightened its rules, but that is expected to take a number of years to take effect as individual drivers’ licenses come up for renewal.

One experienced Manchester operator told the M.E.N. that a common standard across Greater Manchester could be good news for firms - and may in itself help stem the tide of drivers from other areas.

Uber has absorbed so many of the city’s drivers that firms are increasingly having to go elsewhere in order to find new ones, he said.

Often that means getting them from authorities that turn around licensing decisions in the space of days - rather than Greater Manchester boroughs, which can take months.

“The easiest thing at the moment is to go to Wolverhampton, because it takes a week to get a badge compared to a year in Manchester,” he said.

“It would be a good thing because operators could then have access to 20,000 drivers across Greater Manchester and they might rethink their strategy.”

Tom Rook, chair of the Greater Manchester Private Hire Association, said a minimum standard was a good idea in principle, since rules on issues such as vehicle age, advertising, driver qualifications, the Knowledge and the cost of an operator’s license currently vary wildly.

“It’s a good idea within reason,” he said.

“You can only say that once we know what the policy is going to be,” he added.

It is understood the mayor’s office is keen to get going on the plan, hoping that licensing committees across Greater Manchester will take a decision on the issue this financial year.

A common livery could be an early win, insiders suggested.

“In New York, you arrive and you instantly see a yellow cab,” said one council figure.

“It’s part of the city’s identity. Visitors to Greater Manchester need to have the same experience.

“It’s a really interesting issue, about how we professionalise it and make it part of the integrated transport system.

“And if you’re going to hit emissions targets, every bit of the jigsaw needs to play its part.”

A second senior council figure elsewhere in the conurbation said the move ‘made sense’, although they suggested a question would quickly arise about who would pay for a common livery.

“The devil will be in the detail,” they added.

A third senior figure in another council said reforming the trade should be a key part of improving the region’s transport network, particularly in areas where bus services are so poor that people rely on cabs to make many basic journeys.

Licensing is not one of the mayor’s functions but one of individual local councils.

However there has long been a debate over whether Greater Manchester could club together into a common framework in order to improve standards across the conurbation.

A spokesperson at the combined authority said: “The ten licensing authorities across Greater Manchester are working together to develop a common set of minimum standards that will give passengers the confidence that drivers and operators meet high safety standards, and ensure that the vehicles used are safe and contribute to wider ambitions including improving air quality.

“In addition to this work, the mayor has been pressing government to change the law and regulations to allow for more local control of taxis and private hire vehicles.”

Top 

26/07/18

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South Africa shooting: Eleven taxi drivers killed in ambush

Minibus taxis are the most popular form of transport in South Africa

Gunmen in South Africa have killed 11 taxi drivers in an ambush, police say.

The men from Gauteng province were traveling to Johannesburg on Saturday night when their minibus was fired on.

The victims, and four others critically injured, were returning from a colleague's funeral in the coastal region of Kwa-Zulu Natal, police said.

The motive is unclear although rivalry between groups running minibus taxi routes in South Africa has led to violence in the past.

Minibus taxis are the most popular form of transportation among South Africa's population of 55 million.

How violent is South Africa?

Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said the vehicle was attacked between the towns of Colenso and Weenen, in the coastal province.

"The vehicle was ambushed. There were 11 fatalities and four were seriously injured and are in hospital," he told reporters.

"There has been a lot of taxi violence in the area but we are still investigating who the perpetrators were."

The targeted attack comes days after deadly shootings in Johannesburg, South African media reported.

In one week, a taxi owner reportedly with "no enemies" was shot dead in his vehicle, and two others were killed while travelling under a police escort.

Ten people were also killed in violence related to rivalries among minibus drivers in Cape Town over one weekend in May.

Top 

22/07/18

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Taxi firm suddenly stops taking blind and isolated pensioner on weekly outing to cafe

https://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yo ... g-14936470

Kirkburton woman believes 'health and safety' is to blame for end of three-minute cab journey

Image

Image: Huddersfield Examiner

A blind and disabled pensioner has been told she can no longer use her local taxi company because of health and safety risks.

Sheila Childs used Fenay Bridge Taxis once a week to take her from her home in Kirkburton to a cafe three minutes away, and back again.

The cafe staff usually call for her return taxi but on Tuesday this week the staff member was told it would be the last time.

Sheila, 70, said the staff member thought Fenay Bridge Taxis could no longer pick her up because of health and safety issues relating to her needing assistance from the taxi driver.

“It is difficult to park on that street so I need assistance."

“I need some help from the driver,” said Sheila.

“My first problem is my balance that I have trouble with. I am also blind but I have a very little bit of sight.

“It is difficult to park on that street so I need assistance to get from wherever the car is to the bread shop.”

Sheila said she has been using Fenay Bridge Taxis every Tuesday for the past four months and she cannot understand why the situation has changed.

“I haven’t been difficult with them,” she said. “It might take a little longer than usual but they have always been very good and very nice. I just don’t know why.”

Sheila is a widow and has lived in Kirkburton all her life.

Her weekly trip to the cafe is particularly important to her as she has become quite isolated.

She said: “I do have a cleaner that comes three days a week – other than that, that’s it.

“My daughter calls every night. She lives in Rochdale. She’s very good. She has found another taxi company for me and explained my situation to them.”

The new taxi company is based in Huddersfield and is charging Sheila double what she was paying before, meaning it now costs her £10 each way.

Sheila, who was a bellringer at All Hallows Church in Kirkburton from the age of eight to 50, lost her sight early in life.

She explained: “I was blind when I was 13. I had TB meningitis and it left me blind and completely paralysed.

“I did physio and so on and so forth and I could slowly walk again.

“I’m not supposed to be able to see at all. They just say the reason I can see is because I am pig-headed.”

The Examiner contacted Fenay Bridge Taxis but they declined to comment.

Top 

22/07/18

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Dashcam footage on Echo's website doesn't add much to photos below, but certainly shows a bit more than the video from Middlesbrough a few weeks ago :roll:

Yob hurls bottle at Liverpool HC windscreen in shocking dashcam footage

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... n-14936827

The Hackney driver was left shaken - and says job now involves 'taking your life into your own hands'

A Hackney driver captured a yob throwing a bottle at their cab - in the latest evidence for what he says is an increasingly dangerous climate for drivers on our roads.

The driver claims the shocking footage, taken in Park Road, Dingle, shows only one of a daily stream of "abuse and attacks" cabbies face in the city.

In the clip, he is heading down the road when a gang of what appear to be teenagers are gathered on the pavement. As he passes, an object hits the windscreen, spreading liquid right 

Yobs at side of Park Lane in Dingle Image: Liverpool Echo

The orange bottle hit the centre of the windscreen Image: Liverpool Echo

The driver, who wished to remain anonymous, told the ECHO he had seen the situation on the roads become progressively worse, with similar attacks becoming more common.

He added: "I'm not being over-dramatic but you now take your life into your own hands on our roads.

"You need to sit with a taxi driver and see what we're subjected to. The job is turning into something wicked."

The cab driver decided to speak out when he captured the footage just days after installing a dashcam to help protect himself from attacks.

He said the incident could have been a lot worse and he thought the bottle was going to hit him in the face, as he had the window down.

The driver added: "I had just passed the Tesco in Park Road and just before the road bends into Aigburth Drive, there was about eight of them and one launched something at me and it hit the window.

"It really shook me up. I knew it was a Lucozade bottle and it flew at the window and ricocheted off.

"I saw them getting ready to do it so I actually braced myself. I drive a six-seater and I thought 'this is going to hit me in the face' as I was driving with my window down.

"I could have gone off [the road] and killed someone.

"In all honesty, I'm sick of it. We're having a terrible time in the city and this was the last straw."

The cabbie claims other colleagues are scared to turn on their yellow lights (know as their "top hat"), to show they are available for hire, as that is when they become most vulnerable.

He added: "Every time I've had something thrown at me, I've had my yellow light on. It's only when I have my top hat on that they're doing it.

"This is one of many things that happens. It is different this time because I've got it on video. I also think I need to put a video inside my Hackney.

"I've done this job over 12 months and I've never been able to speak with the council and authorities. I have no knowledge there's been anything to help the taxi trade.

"There should be something every month where we can go and they can tell us what they need to help"

The ECHO has approached council for a comment on efforts to support drivers.

22/07/18

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not strictly taxi but of relevance to our trade

Let’s Move In London: “Every shared car takes between 9-15 cars off the road”

A car sharing service may be just what infrequent London drivers are crying out for, but how would this sort of fleet be managed in reality?

Iftikhar Uddin operates a car rental fleet under the business name Let’s Move In London. The fleet comprises over 50 cars, and is currently looking to acquire 20 more.

We caught up with Uddin to find out more about how the business manages its fleet.

What type of vehicles are in your fleet and how did you choose them?

We have a variety of cars including Vauxhall Zafiras, Volkswagen Polos, Peugeots, Hondas – a wide range.

Do you rely on any fleet telematics or driver assistance technology?

Yes – Let’s Move In London works through car sharing platform Drivy, who provides the technology for our vehicles. Known as Open Technology, it allows car drivers to find, instantly book and unlock our cars without having to meet us in person.

How do you fund your fleet?

We’ve used a mix of our own personal savings, loans and finance deals.

Does your carbon footprint matter to you? What do you do to keep emissions and fuel costs down?

European research shows that every shared car takes between 9 and 15 cars off the road, so yes this is important.

Car owners have their cars sitting idle for 96.5% of the time, according to the RAC, and this is a huge waste.

Peer to peer car sharing is good for the environment. To keep emissions and fuel costs down I look to only include environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient cars in my fleet.

How have you future-proofed your fleet? What changes will your business look to make as it scales up?

With the 20 new vehicles that we’re looking to add to our fleet, they will likely be Smart cars because they’re convenient, small and easy to manage, plus our business will be prepared for the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone regulations.

As we continue to scale up, we need to work with partners such as Zero Car Wash to help us manage the fleet and ensure great rental experiences. Such services are vital because they help us with monitoring the health of our cars, damage checks and cleaning after rentals.

Would you use a fleet management provider or do you prefer to keep your fleet in-house? Why?

We’re a small family business, so we both work as a team to manage the fleet – that’s my 3 sons, my wife – as well as partnering with Zero Car Wash.

What have you found to be the biggest challenge with fleet management?

Penalty Charge Notices – like any other rental agency, all fines are sent to my address

Penalty Charge Notices – like any other rental agency, all fines are sent to my address as the owner of the vehicles. We work with our partner Drivy to ensure that the liability is correctly transferred to the driver and all costs covered.

What would be your dream car?

It’s hard to say but once I have driven say a Bugatti Veyron or a Ferrari La Ferrari, I know I would never feel the same getting back into my humble Audi A5!

If you could go on a road trip anywhere, where would you go?

Around the world in 80 days in a motorhome!

_________________

Taxis Are Public Transport too

Join the campaign to get April fools jokes banned for 364 days a year !

21/07/2018

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Fares set to rise marginally in Harrogate as official rejects trade call to abolish flagfall distance

https://www.strayfm.com/news/local-news ... harrogate/

Taxi fares in Harrogate could soon be set to rise – though not as high as first thought.

On Tuesday, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities, Coun Mike Chambers MBE, sent a request to increase Hackney Carriage rates in the district to the council’s licensing committee and to the taxi drivers and operators for consultation.

Coun Chambers had been asked to move forward a rise that would have been equivalent to a 4.78 per cent increase.

However, he is recommending a rise of 2.5 per cent across the board. He is also recommending that the starting charge, or flag fall, be raised to £3.30 from £3.20.

In a report that was produced for Coun Chambers, council officer Gareth Bentley said that local drivers had asked for increases to be put onto shorter journeys. He wrote:

“The hackney carriage trade have this time requested a revision in the fare structure rather than an across the board rise.

“The request is to remove the initial 440 yard distance meaning that the first 20p charge is added to the initial flag fall of £3.20 at 185.93 yards and then every 185.93 yards thereafter.

“The effect of this request would be to load the tariff increases onto the beginning of the journey meaning that shorter journeys see a higher increase.”

For example, a one-mile journey would have seen an 8.7 per cent increase on its 2017 price, while a 10-mile journey would only have gone up by 1.8 per cent.

The report states that the town’s Taxi Liaison Group has been consulted and all bar four of the 32 responses had been in favour of a rise in some form.

Coun Chambers said: "I understand there has to be a balance between the drivers making a living and the cost to the passengers.

“I just felt that the proposed rise was too much and that is why I have made my recommendations.

“It will now be up to the licensing committee and the taxi fraternity to have their say on my recommendations.”

If the original recommendations had been implemented it would have seen Harrogate have the 22nd highest cost for a two-mile journey out of 370 local authorities.

20/07/18

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Drivers travelling more than 100 miles to get their licence after being rejected by Wakefield Council

https://www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk/news ... -1-9259485

Cabbies in Wakefield are travelling 106 miles to get their taxi licence from Wolverhampton because their rules are less strict, it has been claimed.

Private hire drivers are able to operate anywhere in the country provided they have permission from a single local authority.

And now Wakefield’s licensing committee has been told that companies in the district are sending their staff to the West Midlands to get their licence after they’ve failed to meet the requirements locally.

The claims have been repeated in other parts of the UK and on Monday taxi drivers in Wolverhampton took part in a ‘go-slow’ protest, as they accused their council of making it too easy to enter the trade.

It comes as councils in West Yorkshire are trying to agree on one set of taxi rules to cover the whole region.

Councillor Elaine Blezard told the committee: “I’ve heard through taxi drivers that a lot of them are going to other councils to get their licences because of how stringent our rules are.

“If we are working together (with other councils), why are they going to places other than Wakefield?

”Councillor Yvonne Crewe said that at a recent meeting with local taxi bosses, one firm owner told her that he sent drivers to Wolverhampton because the process was “quicker”.

She said she was not originally aware of the 2015 law change that meant cabbies could live and work away from the licensing authority.

Coun Crewe said: “When I was first told this, I had visions of a convoy coming over the top of the M62 first thing in the morning, and then going back at night.

“But this company’s drivers were refused here and they just sent them there. There must be something about Wolverhampton that makes them all go there and that worries me.

“We don’t check them, so how do we know they are fit and proper people?”

The BBC reported on Wednesday that Wolverhampton Council issued more than twice the number of private hire licences of any other local authority between March 2015 and March 2017.

The Wakefield District Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Association, which represents drivers, has recently been in conflict with the local council about rises in licensing fees and tough new emission rules.

Association co-chairman Wajid Ali claimed the licensing committee “didn’t have a clue” about the problems facing drivers in the district.

He said: “Wakefield Council has some of the highest licensing fees in the country.

“If you go to Wolverhampton, your licence costs £69 and you get it in 20 days.

“It’s not for us to say what the rules should be. The law’s the law and we are abiding by it. Everything we’re doing is legal. Call it a loophole if you will, but if it’s there drivers have every right to take advantage of it.

“We’ve been used as a cash cow by the council and we’ve been warning them of that for years.”

20/07/18

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Highland taxi driver fined after driving off before his passenger had completely entered his car

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/ne ... d-his-car/

An Inverness taxi driver drove off before one of his passengers had properly entered his vehicle.

The woman was left bruised and lying on the pavement as 72-year-old Iain Mackenzie left the Academy Street rank on August 5.

Inverness Sheriff Court was told his fare “was half in half out, having just got one leg into the car” before he pulled off at low speed.

Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood heard that Mackenzie stopped immediately on seeing his passenger had not properly got in to his cab.

Mackenzie, of Kilmore, Drumnadrochit, admitted careless driving and was fined £300.

The retired bus driver’s clean driving licence was also endorsed with six penalty points.

Defence solicitor Ken MacLeod said: “This is a considerable embarrassment to him. As a bus driver, passenger safety was drilled into him.”

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19/07/18

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reat coverage of this on the newspaper's site. There's even a poll, and at the moment around 90% think the driver's licence should have been revoked before the brawl.

The brawl episode seemed to have made the local and national press when it happened last year, but no sign of any mention of it on here.

What I can't understand though is how the backstory has all come to light now, since the licence was revoked last year, and magistrates dismissed the driver's appeal in February this year, as far as I can make out. #-o

Brawl taxi driver had THREE previous complaints against him

https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/d ... eo-1776778

One woman passenger was allegedly asked 'invasive questions' by the cabbie

A Derby taxi driver has been stripped of his licence after having a catalogue of complaints made against him.

The driver was filmed by a passer-by fighting with another driver. The video of the fight, which took place in Westbury Street in the Stockbrook area of the city, went viral and was viewed over 100,000 times last September.

Image

Now Derbyshire Live can reveal the brawl was the FOURTH time a complaint had been made about the man, who worked in Derby despite being licensed in Erewash.

On November 2015, he was allegedly involved in a road rage incident with another driver and in September 2016 a female passenger said that he reportedly asked her creepy questions about being alone and about her boyfriend.

In October 2016, a fare complained about him reportedly being rude to passengers but he kept his licence until the brawl video emerged in 2017.

Erewash Borough Council said the first three incidents were "isolated complaints" which required no further action.

But licensing officers had warned the driver that his licence would be reviewed if any similar issues were received.

And a month after the viral video emerged, Erewash's licensing panel revoked his licence because they felt his explanation of the brawl events was “inadequate and contradictory”.

The council said that as soon as it was notified that the driver had been involved in a physical altercation, the Drivers Licensing Panel moved quickly to revoke his licence.

The panel members were not satisfied that he was a "fit and proper person" to hold a hackney carriage/private hire vehicle driver’s licence.

Despite this ruling, the taxi driver decided to appeal against the case at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court in February this year but magistrates refused to give him back his licence and upheld the council’s decision.

Taxi drivers are able to be licensed elsewhere and still drive in Derby after the national deregulation of taxis more than two years ago. And many drivers have gone outside the city for their licence due to increased charges and the introduction of a points-based assessment scheme here.

Councillor Kewal Singh Athwal, chair of Erewash Borough Council's Drivers Licensing Panel, said: “The overriding consideration has to be the safety of the public. That is paramount. As such, it is our duty to ensure, as far as possible, that those licensed to drive hackney carriage and private hire vehicles are suitable persons.

"We take this very seriously and, while we took into account the explanations given by this driver, the decision was a clear one – that his licence be revoked.

"This decision was backed by Southern Derbyshire Magistrates when they dismissed the driver’s appeal earlier this year.

“We carry out licence and criminal conviction checks on our drivers every year – we are one of the few local authorities to do these annual checks rather than every three years.

“When our licensing team receive any complaint about a driver, that complaint is considered and, if appropriate, the driver interviewed. In this case there had been isolated complaints, including one received by the police, where the police took no further action.

"However, our licensing team warned the driver that his licence would be reviewed if any similar issues were received. Consequently, when we were made aware of the filmed altercation involving this driver we rightly took action very quickly.”

This is how the taxi driver lost his licence

Taxi driver receives his licence

He received his licence in April 2013.

First incident

On November 2, 2015, he was allegedly involved in a road rage incident which involved tailgating and flashing his lights at another driver, which resulted in both drivers getting into a verbal confrontation.

Second incident

On September 19, 2016, a lone female passenger made a complaint to the police that he reportedly made her “uncomfortable” after a series of “invasive questions” about her being alone and regarding her partner.

Third incident

On October 9, 2016, a member of the public stated the driver had been "very rude to passengers" and became uncomfortable when asked who he worked for.

Borough council warns driver

Erewash Borough Council told the driver his licence may be reviewed if further complaints were received.

Final straw

The viral video emerges of the driver fighting in Westbury Street in the Stockbrook area on September 25 2017.

The video goes viral and is investigated by Erewash Borough Council and Derby City Council.

Driver is approached again by council

Erewash Borough Council interviews the driver about the fight and previous incidents. He is told his suitability as a taxi driver would need to be considered by the council's Drivers Licensing Panel.

Council revokes his licence

On October 25, 2017, the Drivers Licensing Panel meets.

His licence is revoked after it is stated he is considered to be "a potential threat to female passengers" and his explanations of the brawl incident was "inadequate and contradictory".

Driver attempts to appeal against the decision

The driver takes the appeal to Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court in February this year but fails in his bid.

19/07/18

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Taxi drivers fuming as cabs face scrapheap over emissions target

https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/ ... -1-4770741

NEARLY half of Edinburgh’s taxis are to be forced from the road in a massive emissions cull, the Evening News can reveal.

All black cabs older than ten years will need to be replaced by 2020 under a new Edinburgh City Council policy, accounting for 616 vehicles of a fleet of 1316.

Drivers have slammed the council plans to meet EU guidelines as rushed and poorly researched, with many likely to have to quit the trade as it faces a £20 million upgrade bill.

“We want to be part of the solution on air quality and we should be getting support from the council,” Edinburgh Taxi Association chairman Mark McNally said.

“But we feel that we’ve been singled out as a group and the benefits are insignificant. We feel let down in being asked to jump through hoops. It’s unacceptable.

”With drivers facing forking out up to £62,000 for a top-of-the-range new taxi, representatives fear for their futures.

“Some of these guys are 55 or 60-plus and they won’t be given finance to renew these vehicles,” Mr McNally said.

He maintained the taxi trade was committed to helping improve air quality in the city, but that measures have been adopted way ahead of other initiatives, including low emission zones.

“We find ourselves singled out with no evidence to show what impact this will have on improving air quality,” he said.

Although many drivers still use cars more than ten years old, Mr McNally assured these were still viable vehicles.

“Some of these guys keep older vehicles on the road relatively cheaply, but they have to pass the same tests as a brand new car,” he said.

“If it doesn’t pass, then it’s taken off the road.”

The Edinburgh Taxi Association polled its 500 members and four in five said they would find it difficult to continue in the trade in light of the new fleet requirements.

New age restrictions on taxis come into effect in April next year, though drivers get a year’s leeway if their car’s licence expires in 2020.

Patrick Gallagher, 44, from Moredun, has been a cabbie in Edinburgh for a decade and drives a 12-year-old model.

“I found out in March it had to be off the road next April – 13 months’ notice, whereas in London they got five years’ notice,” Mr Gallagher said.

“There are guys in their 50s and 60s taking part-time work because they can’t afford 50, 60 or 70 grand on a new taxi. After April, they might not have jobs and who’s going to employ them at that age?

Council-owned Lothian Buses got £800m from the government [to meet emissions targets]. Taxi drivers get no help.”

A council spokeswoman said drivers were consulted since June 2016, leading to tweaked plans, including dropping the age limit of cars from five years to ten.

Proposals were drawn up to bring the Capital in line with most other UK cities.

“The council is responding to growing public concern about the impact of air pollution on their health by introducing a range of measures to ensure people can breathe clean air in the city,” the spokesman said.

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19/07/18

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another piece on already well trodden ground more stats and info on the bbc news website

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-44849364

If you've ever been in a cab and wondered why the driver's taxi licence was issued hundreds of miles away, the answer may lie in Wolverhampton.

The city has found itself at the centre of angry protests from cab drivers, who accuse the local council of making it too easy to enter the trade.

Cabbies from other parts of England and Wales say drivers newly licensed in the West Midlands are operating as far afield as Manchester and Southampton.

ow-drive through the city, calling on the authority to tighten rules around who gets permission to carry passengers.

They have taken similar action before, as have hackney carriage drivers.

Why are taxi drivers angry?

To date, the Labour-run council has licensed nearly 10,700 private hire minicab drivers. In a city of about 260,000, that's one for every 24 people.

But many are not working there.

In 2015 the law changed, meaning a private-hire driver does not have to live or operate in the local authority area that grants his or her licence.

And some say it is too easy to pass the test in Wolverhampton. The council strongly disputes this.

Is this a problem?

Many established taxi drivers say the Deregulation Act 2015 is threatening their livelihoods and claim a change in the application process is "risking customer safety".

Before April 2015, there were 852 private hire drivers licensed in Wolverhampton, according to the Department for Transport.

_________________

18/07/18

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Cabbies protest out-of-town drivers taking Welwyn Garden City business

Cabbies working with a leading WGC private hire company held a day of work stoppage in protest of their employment conditions. The self-employed private hire drivers, all members of Welwyn Hatfield Taxi Drivers’ Union, were demonstrating about the terms of their work with AAA Taxis, one of the largest cab companies in the borough.

The protest had the backing of national workers’ union GMB. On Tuesday, July 3, dozens of drivers gathered at Mundells with their cars and GMB flags. The protesters say over 100 drivers attended.

The cabbies were objecting to AAA’s use of drivers licensed by Transport for London (TfL) for Welwyn Hatfield jobs, which they say is eating into their business. One driver said his takings had plummeted by between 60 to 70 per cent in recent months.

GMB say that under a process called triple licensing, the operator, driver and vehicle should all come from the area the job was called from. However, the law changed nationally in 2015 following the Deregulation Act, allowing operators to sub-contract jobs across local authority borders.

The drivers protesting at Mundells said they want more scrutiny on cross-border hiring of drivers as a national issue. A spokesperson for AAA, which has offices serving Potters Bar, Hatfield, WGC, Borehamwood, Hertford and St Albans, said: “We operate within the national and local guidelines for licensing.”

Welwyn Hatfield-based drivers with AAA pay the company between £90 and £100 per week to access its bookings, and believe that the company takes similar fees from London drivers. Either way, one driver told the WHT: “The more drivers they get, the more money they get.”

He added: “So we’re the ones who suffer.” “They [AAA] don’t care about their drivers any more,” said another anonymous driver at the Mundells demonstration.

Steve ********, regional officer for GMB, also attended the protest on Tuesday, July 3. “It takes a lot for drivers to protest like this,” he said. “The guys here need a quality of life and they need to be able to earn an income.” He added the TfL-licensed drivers “don’t know the area, and they don’t know the clientele”.

He expressed particular concern about the possibility that contracts for the school run could be subcontracted to non-local drivers. The demonstrating drivers say that AAA has not responded to their ongoing attempts to discuss the situation, prompting the protest. “Nothing has been talked about, they just ignore us,” said one driver.

A spokesperson for AAA responded to say that they regularly discuss issues with drivers on an individual and group basis. On the day of the protest, AAA declined to comment, but told the WHT: “As far as we’re concerned it’s business as usual for our customers.” The impact of cross-border hiring of drivers has been a point of discussion between cabbies since the Deregulation Act came in, and is not unique to AAA.

A spokesperson for Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, which oversees taxi and private hire licensing, said in response to the drivers’ calls for greater scrutiny: “This has become a problem for drivers across the country and we’ve been supporting the lobbying at a national level calling for the law change to be looked at again.

“We’ve also been working closely with TfL over many months to investigate operator activity in London and hope to make a further announcement soon.”

As a next step, the drivers are planning to arrange a meeting with Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps to discuss their concerns about how the Deregulation Act is impacting them.

18/07/18

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No taxi price hike planned in Perth and Kinross

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/loca ... d-12930325

Perth and Kinross Council decision made at licensing committee

There will be no increase in taxi fares in Perth and Kinross until 2019 at least after a decision was made at a licensing committee meeting last week.

The meeting, held on Thursday, July 12, concluded that the current charges, which have been in force since April 2017, will remain due to low responses from Perth and Kinross taxi companies.

In accordance with the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 a review was carried out in May 2018 and all individual taxi operators and organisations representing, or appearing to be, representative of the operators of taxis in Perth and Kinross were invited to put forward their proposals.

A council report said: “Letters were sent to 107 taxi operators, 81 private hire vehicle operators with meters fitted and organisations. Fourteen replies were received.

“Two of those who responded wished the fares to remain unchanged, 10 wished the fares to be increased, one suggested a change to the tariff times and one wished the soiling charge to be increased.

“In light of the extremely low response rate from the taxi trade to the consultation, it is proposed that the scale of fares and existing tariffs remain unchanged. This would have the effect of continuing fares where there is a meter in place at the present levels until a further review is carried out in summer 2019.”

In line with the legislation, the council is required to review its scale of fares and other charges for the hire of taxis at intervals not exceeding 18 months.

At present the council operates a three tariff system. These provide for increasing rates from tariff one to tariff three.

Tariff one applies from 6.30am-11pm with a £3 charge for the first 880 yards and a 10p charge for every 110 yards thereafter.

Tariff two applies between 11pm-6.30am with a £3.80 charge for the first 880 yards and a 10p charge for every 88 yards thereafter.

And tariff three applies on December 24,25,26,31 and January 1 and 2 with a £4.50 charge for the first 880 yards and 10p charge every 74 yards thereafter.

The meeting proposed that the scale of the fares could be advertised in the local press and that interested parties are invited to respond within one month of the advertisement.

These responses would then be considered at the licensing committee meeting on August 23, 2018.

Also that if no representations are received, the scale of fares and existing tariffs remain unchanged.

However, the final recommendation was to keep fares the same with a review next summer.

18/07/18

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Manchester Airport black cab drivers have stopped picking up passengers due to taxi rank dispute

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk ... s-14887189

The row between Unite and airport bosses has escalated through the day, with drivers initially boycotting just the new rank - which is around the corner from the terminal and not visible to passengers

Black cab drivers have stopped picking up from all Manchester Airport terminals as part of a dispute over a new T3 taxi rank.

The row between Unite the union and airport bosses has escalated through the day, with drivers initially boycotting just the new rank - which is around the corner from the terminal and not visible to passengers.

Drivers claim this positioning discriminates against disabled passengers - and Hackney cabs.

It takes the place of the current rank, which is closer to the terminal exit and more visible to passengers. It’s been moved to make way for more drop-off bays for a new ‘kiss and fly’ passenger charging system launching on Tuesday.

The new taxi stand is the third in less than a year. The original one had space for 12 cabs, while the new one will take four at a time.

In protest, black cab drivers were using the passenger drop-off bays outside Terminal Three to pick up passengers on Monday afternoon.

But at 6.30pm on Monday, they moved to a full withdrawal of their services.

Yucel Polat, a driver and Unite rep, said: “We were getting threats and drivers were getting moved on so we moved to a full withdrawal from all terminals. We are getting a strong feeling they don’t want black cabs here.

"At international airports around the world the first thing passengers see when they step outside is a taxi rank. But not here.

Drivers also take issue with the facilities at the feeder park on Ringway Road - where they wait before being directed to the terminals by airport marshalls. They say hundreds of drivers have to share three run-down toilets and that facilities have been left to deteriorate.

Khurshid Anjim, a driver of 20 years, said: “The facilities are diabolical and I’ve seen them get worse over the years.”

A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “Passengers have a wide range of options for travelling to and from Manchester Airport, including train, tram, bus, coach, car, private hire operators and Hackney Carriages.

“It is down to each individual Hackney Carriage driver who is registered with us whether they choose to work on any given day and we note the intention of a group of drivers not to serve our terminals until further notice.

“In developing our new forecourt arrangements, we have had to consider the interests of more than 25 different user groups while coming up with a system that reduces congestion and provides the best possible experience to our customers.


“We believe we have chosen the best possible location for the Hackney Carriage rank at Terminal 3, from where cars are sent from our dedicated feeder park.

“It is a similar distance away from the terminal than the previous rank, with new signage put in place to guide all arriving passengers to the right location, should they wish to use a Hackney Carriage for their onward journey.

“This signage has been tested with passengers prior to the new rank opening and has proven to be effective.

“We have been in dialogue with the Hackney Carriage community over a number of concerns they have raised about the Terminal 3 rank and believe we have made several concessions in an attempt to resolve the issue.

“Among other things, these include the guarantee of a review of the new system after six weeks and the provision by Manchester Airport of a dedicated taxi marshal inside Terminal 3 to direct arriving passengers to the new rank.

“That is why it is disappointing this action has been taken before the effects on the Hackney trade, if any, are truly known.

“However, we remain committed to working with the Hackney Carriage community to find a solution that is fair to all users of Manchester Airport.”

13/07/2018

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Treatment of Gatwick taxi driver focuses spotlight on ‘anti-union stance’ of taxi company, says Unite

http://www.unitetheunion.org/news/treat ... i-company/

The treatment of a driver, who worked for the official Gatwick Airport taxi firm, is ‘the tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to working practices at the company, Unite, the country’s largest union, has said.

Unite is supporting Michael Sweeney, a self-employed taxi driver who has worked at the airport since 1996 and has been refused work by Airport Cars Gatwick (ACG), the union said, for carrying out his legitimate duties as a union rep.

Unite said that Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) was ‘turning a blind eye’ to the activities of ACG because it was receiving a handsome sum from the company after it won the contract at the airport in 2011.

Unite regional officer Jen Parker said: “The treatment of Michael Sweeney is the tip of the iceberg at ACG which has a very anti-union stance. We are calling for Michael’s immediate reinstatement, and, if that does not, happen, we will be taking legal action.”

Unite pinpoints two incidents that led to Michael Sweeney being refused work by the company from 25 May this year.

Jen Parker added: “In March, ACG wanted to increase the commission rate which drivers paid from 21 to 23 per cent. Many members disagreed with this move and Michael vigorously campaigned against this added financial burden.

“During this period, ACG was using its representatives to encourage drivers not to speak out and to sign up to these changes. When Michael went into the drivers’ rest room, another driver, who is associated with ACG’s driver reps, was visibly trying to coerce other drivers to sign up to allow the increase to go-ahead.

“ACG then decided it would discipline Michael as the other driver had given an exaggerated account accusing Michael of alleged bullying, which we strongly refute.

“When I represented Michael at the disciplinary hearing, another spurious allegation was added, relating to an incident when Michael raised with booking staff threatening language being used to a child by a member of the public at Gatwick Airport.

“Basically, it’s all been a stitch up to not give Michael any more work. His invitation to the disciplinary actually stated that as he was a representative he would be dealt with more harshly.

“We have tried everything we can to get Michael reinstated to receive work, but Gatwick Airport management is adamant it will not get involved.

“This seems to be because ACG has been able to attract more customers than the previous franchise holder, which inevitably means the airport getting a higher income.”

Unite said problems for the drivers started as soon as ACG took over the franchise in 2011. It then informed the drivers they had to have black Mercedes limo type cars or the equivalent, at that time most drivers had Ford Mondeos or the equivalent. It also wanted other costly changes.

As a result, a procedural agreement was introduced under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas to deal with future problems, but Unite said that the airport management, a signatory to the Acas-brokered agreement, was ‘turning a blind eye’ to Michael Sweeney’s case.

Support for Michael’s reinstatement has come from the Labour leader of Crawley borough council Cllr. Peter Lamb and more than 50 signatories from other Unite branches at the airport.

Notes to editors:

Self-employed drivers working for ACG at Gatwick have to provide their own car, insurance, road tax and servicing of their vehicles, as well as ‘official’ clothing of black trousers and white shirt. The only item that ACG provides is a tie.

13/07/2018

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New laws for Liverpool cabbies - including a BAN on hated up front charges

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... g-14866166

Council crackdown after Echo campaign

Liverpool's black cab drivers could be set to come under a new set of rules that would include a ban on charging customer's upfront - an issue that has been repeatedly raised in the city.

The council's licensing committee will consider creating a number of new byelaws for black cabs at a meeting next week.

Drivers would be stopped from demanding any kind of upfront payment from passengers travelling in Liverpool or that end within four miles of the council border.

The planned move from the council comes after a campaign by the ECHO which highlighted how a number of black cab drivers are continuing to demand large fares from customers ahead of journeys - rather than using the cab's Taximeter.

As we have always pointed out - the majority of drivers in the city operate very well - but many drivers agree they are being let down by the minority.

And it appears the council have listened to these concerns.

Other new laws planned

Along with the clamp-down on charging up front - the council is planning to bring in a number of other new by-laws for cabbies in Liverpool.

Passengers could get increased rights when it comes to paying, with all drivers that have a card machine required to use it if asked.

Customers who want a receipt would be backed by a new by-law which requires drivers to give one if requested.

The use of e-cigarettes by drivers will also be banned under one of the new rules.

And wheelchair users would be the beneficiary of a rule requiring all drivers to be fully aware of how to use the wheelchair ramp in their cars, as well as other features.

The proposed rules are specifically for Hackney cabs, with private hire taxis subject to their own set of rules.

Once debated at a meeting next Tuesday the rules would go to the full council to be voted on.

It comes as Liverpool council continues a crackdown on black cabs and private hire taxis which flout rules, with prosecutions of individual drivers continuing.

Trade problems

The ECHO has been covering some of the problems with the taxi trade in the city for some time.

As we have said, we know that the majority of drivers operate professionally and treat customers well - but a number of passengers have come forward with stories of over-charging, cherry picking and charging large fares up front.

This has been particularly prevalent during football matches, where it has been reported that fans - often from foreign countries or different cities - have been charged extortionate fares before even getting into a cab.

Our reporting led to Mayor Joe Anderson committing to increasing undercover operations by the council during football matches in an attempt to catch drivers acting badly in person.

And now it would appear that the council wants to go a step further and introduce a range of specific new by-laws to tackle the issues affecting the trade.

13/07/2018

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Taxi to Pembroke cost angry teen £965

http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/ ... -teen-965/

A taxi from Haverfordwest to Pembroke cost a furious teenager nearly £1,000 after she unleashed a ‘torrent of abuse and anger’ on the driver and kicked his door.

Lacey Sharp, of Greenhaven, Monkton, was found guilty of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear of or provoke unlawful violence, after standing trial at Haverfordwest magistrates court on Wednesday, July 4.

Sharp, 18, had previously admitted causing criminal damage to a taxi, and the bench found her not guilty of two racially aggravated charges.

The court heard that Sharp and her girlfriend started arguing in the back of Hafiz Farooq’s taxi on their way home from Haverfordwest in the early hours of September 24.

Sharp became abusive and aggressive during the drive, and Mr Farooq decided to stop his car in Main Street, Pembroke, instead of taking the girls the rest of the journey, because of Sharp’s behaviour and fears for his safety.

He asked the girls to leave, told them he would refund £5 of their fare and approached a street pastor for assistance.

Mr Farooq then pushed Sharp away because she getting close to his face and being abusive towards him.

He said: “She fell on the road and straight away she got up and started running towards me. I moved to the side and she hit my car door.”

Mr Farooq added that he had been unable to work until the car had been repaired, and Sharp had caused £456 of damage.

Street pastor Jonathon Berharral told the court that Mr Farooq was ‘visibly distressed’ when he saw him, and Sharp continued to be abusive after getting out of the taxi.

He said: “The defendant was advancing in a very menacing posture with language to accompany it.”

Mr Berharral added: “She approached the vehicle and vented her fury on it. It was a very hard and purposefully directed kick.”

“The action was accompanied all the time by this torrent of abuse and anger.”

Sharp told police that she kicked the car in the heat of the moment due to embarrassment at falling on the floor, adding that she apologised.

She told the bench that she had simply wanted her £5 back, and did not think she had acted aggressively.

“I did not think about kicking the car, it was just out of anger.”

Mike Kelleher, defending, told the bench Sharp kicked the taxi because she was ‘embarrassed and furious’ at being pushed to the ground.

Sharp was ordered to pay £500 compensation to Mr Farooq, an £80 fine, £300 costs, and an £85 surcharge.

Magistrates also imposed a 12 month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work.

The chairman of the bench said: “You need to control your temper because this what can happen when you lose it.”

12/07/18

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Local hero in call for other taxi drivers to learn first aid and carry cabbie first aid packs

https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/l ... aid-packs/

Image

Image: Evening Telegraph

A taxi driver has proved to not only be competent behind the wheel, but a potential lifesaver.

Jordan Coupland was first on the scene when he saw an elderly man collapse a few hundred yards from his company’s offices.

The 26-year-old, who works for Radio Taxis in Scott Street, Perth, used the medical skills he gained at the Red Cross and as a member of Perth First Responders until paramedics arrived.

He said the man was conscious when he left to let medics continue their work.

It’s not the first time Jordan has come to the rescue – and now he’s called for fellow taxi drivers to be trained in basic first aid and CPR.

He also proposed fitting taxis with first aid kits.

“I’ve attended to a number of distressed people,” said Jordan, from Blaigowrie.

“I don’t know exactly how many but, when I have spotted someone taking ill, I stop the taxi and go to help.

“I carry a first aid box in my taxi so I am prepared to do what I can.

“Some of those I have helped have been folk hurt in road accidents.

“They include a biker who was quite badly hurt and people injured in a crash at the Beech Hedges which sit on the Perth-Blairgowrie road.

“And there was a time I noticed a chap in my taxi wasn’t looking too good.

“I realised he would need hospital treatment so I whisked him off to Perth Royal Infirmary.”

He added: “It would be good to have all taxis kitted out with first aid kits and for every driver to have basic first aid skills.

“You never know when someone in your taxi may need medical aid or when someone in the street may need to be helped.”

Jordan’s heroics won praise from fellow cabbie Chris Elder, taxi branch secretary for Unite in Dundee.

However, he questioned the practicality of training every taxi driver to become a life saver. “I think what the guy has done is brilliant, fair play to him for doing what he did,” Chris said.

“But I don’t think that kind of training or having first aid kits in their car is the way to go about it. What if they tried to carry out CPR but they actually made the situation worse?

“We have our SVQs and our first point of call is to contact the ambulance straight away.”

12/07/18

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These are the big changes planned for all taxis in Torbay

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-ne ... ay-1774048

All private hire taxis will be black and cabs on the taxi ranks will be white - and they will all have contrasting vinyl-wrapped boots and bonnets, used elsewhere for advertising.

All taxicab drivers in Torbay will have to undergo Child Sexual Exploitation training, have a standard livery for their vehicles, and face losing their taxi drivers' licence if they get 10 penalty points under proposed new rules.

The drivers themselves will have to take a geography 'knowledge' test and English language test.

Consultation has begun on Torbay Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy, which has already been agreed in principle by the Licensing Committee. A consultation period runs until August 31.

The eight main changes are:

New standard livery

All private hire vehicles will be black and hackney carriages will be white - but they will have vinyl wrapped boots and bonnets (used for advertising in other areas). Hackney Carriages, which are allowed to use the taxi ranks, will all be white with a contrasting vinyl wrapped boot and bonnet. Private Hire Vehicles must be black with a contrasting boot and bonnet (colour and any signage yet to be determined). Existing licensed vehicles will be required to conform to the new standard livery when the vehicle is replaced at any time.

All drivers will have to undertake Child Sexual Exploitation training

This will apply to all existing drivers by May 2019 and all new drivers within six months of the grant of a licence, as licensed drivers are in constant contact with the public and therefore can be instrumental in identifying and reporting potential cases.

Drivers may lose their taxi drivers' licence if they get 10 penalty points

A driver will have to appear before Licensing Committee if they have more than nine penalty points at any one time. This change means that 10 or more current penalty points on a DVLA licence may result in action being taken against the driver by the Licensing Authority, which could include their licence being suspended.

Tighter checks every six months

The process of checking for traffic offences and licence endorsements be tightened from 'where considered necessary’ to ‘every six months’.

Taxis can be 10 years old but reduction in maximum mileage

The maximum age of a licensed vehicle (once licensed) has been increased from 8 years to 10 years subject to suitability, the maximum age of a vehicle when first presented for licensing has been left at four years, but the maximum mileage of a vehicle when first presented for licensing has been reduced from 60,000 to 50,000.

Cars tested at eight years old

Each and every vehicle that has reached eight years of age or more will be required to undergo a second compliance test, approximately six months from the date of renewal.

New identifying door signs

All licensed Hackney Carriage and private hire vehicles will be fitted with identifying door signs.

CCTV installation inside vehicle will be left to individual drivers and vehicle proprietors.

The aim of the Policy is to regulate the system to ensure that the public travel safely, receive a good level of service and drivers and operators are not overly burdened by unnecessary conditions.

"Public safety is paramount, and this Licensing Authority seeks to ensure through its licensing regime that all taxi and Private Hire vehicles are fit for purpose and that their drivers and/or operators are fit and proper persons," the policy says.

Tests for 'fit and proper drivers'

To decide if a driver is 'fit and proper', the Licensing Authority will require the applicant to demonstrate:

- That they understand the local geography of Torbay, by successfully completing a knowledge test.

- They are able to communicate effectively with customers, to include a basic understanding of the English language.

- To successfully complete a Driving Standards Assessment.

- Drivers will have to produce an acceptable Disclosure and Barring Service certificate.

- They must have a satisfactory driving history, as verified through the DVLA.

- And, finally, they must be considered ‘fit and proper’ by Torbay Council.

12/07/18

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Birmingham public being put in 'danger' by current taxi licence legislation

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/l ... t-14896363

Council officers have no enforcement powers over drivers who have been licensed elsewhere

Council bosses in Birmingham want to establish a 'common set of standards' for issuing taxi licences across the West Midlands - which would also apply to rebel local authority Wolverhampton.

The public are being put in 'danger' by current legislation which allows private hire operators to obtain a licence in one area and work in another, warned Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council (BCC).

Council officers have no enforcement powers over drivers who have been licensed elsewhere.

Cllr Ward revealed he had held a meeting between Labour council leaders in the West Midlands with a view to establishing consistency across the region for issuing licences.

It is understood the talks have also included bosses at Wolverhampton Council which has been widely criticised, by Birmingham taxi drivers in particular, for its licensing process.

It is quicker and cheaper to obtain a licence at the Black Country authority while there is dispute as to whether their examination is easier and less demanding.

Councillors and officials at Birmingham have not publicly pointed the finger at Wolverhampton.

But tellingly the authority was omitted when Cllr Barbara Dring, chairman of licensing and public protection (BCC), wrote to the Minister for Transport about the issue in October on behalf of Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall councils.

The problem has arisen due to the 2015 Deregulation Act which allows licensed private hire drivers to operate anywhere in England and Wales.

Cllr Ward said: "The current situation of taxi licensing whereby taxi drivers can be licensed by one authority and work in another local authority is resulting in a mess, and a mess that is putting the public at danger and at risk.

"The government, in spite of being written to on a number of occasions by Cllr Dring, is proving to be reluctant in the extreme to make changes to the current licensing regime.

"Therefore I held a meeting with the Labour met leaders two weeks ago, to discuss the whole situation about how taxis are licensed across the West Midlands.

"What we have agreed is that we will now have a subsequent meeting where we will attempt to agree a common set of standards that should apply across the West Midlands.

"It is to the credit of all the leaders across the West Midlands that we are prepared to act when the government is not prepared to act."

Cllr Dring said: "The law states that licensing authorities must not grant a licence to any person unless they are satisfied that person is fit and proper.

"It is not appropriate to comment on the standards applied by other local authorities but we take this very seriously in Birmingham."

Cllr Dring also pointed out recent changes to improve the efficiency of Birmingham's licensing process, which included axing the A-Z map test, making questions multiple choice and testing numerous candidates at one time.

She added: "Private hire vehicles have always been allowed to pick up and drop off outside their licensed area.

"But the Deregulation Act 2015 has caused a problem by allowing the sub-contracting of bookings between areas which leads to such great numbers.

"Our officers have no enforcement powers to carry out checks on vehicles other than our own and neighbouring authority officers do not have enforcement powers in our area."

12/07/18

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Crackdown on taxi drivers coming from as far as Leeds and London to ply trade in Liverpool

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... r-12597187

The move comes after a group of local drivers took matters into their own hands over the weekend

Taxi drivers are reported to be coming into Liverpool from as far away as London - making hundreds of pounds in the city before heading home.

Liverpool council has also had reports of drivers with poor local knowledge heading to the city centre on busy days and taking trade from local firms.

And one group of cabbies appeared to take matters into their own hands over the weekend – blocking in an Uber driver who allegedly had a Transport for London licence before he was said to have been “escorted out of the city.”

Now Mayor Joe Anderson said he is taking steps to clamp down on the “free for all” private hire trade he says has formed across the city region.

And this could include a new universal licence for drivers across the six city-region boroughs as well as a more general Knowledge-style test.

Mayor Anderson said: “We have evidence of drivers coming from places as far away as Leeds to pick up work in the city centre.

“There was an Uber driver who came from Leeds for a match day in Liverpool and stayed to work until 3am, picking up a few hundred quid then going back to Leeds – that does not help Liverpool.

“It is a free for all at the minute, with people working here who do not understand the city.”

He said he has received reports of other drivers lacking basic geographical knowledge of the city – such as where Dingle is.

Mayor Anderson said he has now spoken with the leaders of all the city-region boroughs and is putting together a task group to look at the issue.

He said: “We are looking at introducing one licence for the city region so you don’t have one area that takes all the money.

“There will also be some form of requirement to have some level of knowledge of the area they are operating in.

“We want to cut-down on drivers cherry picking fares and moonlighting.”

He said the proposed new licence would also combat the issue of drivers picking up licences in outlying city-region boroughs before plying their trade in the city.

He said: “We don’t have the funding at the moment to pay for enforcement for these drivers, we are paying for issues that haven’t been caused by us as a council.

“The extra money we could make on the licences could be used for better enforcement.”

Earlier this year, Knowsley Council had to suspend the issuing of new licences as it struggled to deal with a deluge of new applications.

This came after the council removed the ‘street knowledge’ section of its driver licence application –



which critics said made it to easy for people to get qualified.

At the time there were suggestions that would-be drivers were ‘scamming’ Knowsley Council by going into the borough, applying for a licence and then heading to Manchester or Liverpool to ‘work for Uber.’

A spokesman for Uber said: “It’s common industry practice for drivers licensed in one jurisdiction to carry out trips in other jurisdictions as long as they are pre-booked and dispatched from the operator’s licence they are registered to.

“Private-hire drivers that use the Uber app are fully licensed independent contractors and are free to log in and drive when and where they choose. Particularly in Merseyside, we see considerable demand for trips between Liverpool and Sefton, Knowsley and Wirral as people are opting to book an Uber instead of taking their private cars.”

12/07/18

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A London private hire driver working on the Uber platform was deemed not to have been plying-for-hire in Reading despite picking up in the Uber-free licensed authority.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot, the same judge that awarded the controversial minicab firm a 15-month reprieve to its London operators licence just last month, found the vehicle not to have a “distinctive appearance” and that the TfL roundels “were not of such prominence that it could be said that there was something on the vehicle which cried out I am for hire”.

Reading Council brought the test case against Uber driver Mudassar Ali who held only a Transport for London licence rather than the local authority licence. Uber are not licensed in Reading either.

The council argued that the American based firm did not hold a licence in Reading and had created a market by plying for hire via its app in their authority. Charles Holland QC representing Reading added that without advertising the vehicles availability there would be no market in the area stated .

Philip Kolvin QC representing Mr Ali and Uber pointed out that the drivers services could only be booked by a member of the public who had downloaded the Uber Rider App and then entered into a private hire booking through the App.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot awarded Uber and Mr Ali the case dismissing all charges.

10/07/18

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Huge shake-up to Manchester's taxis could see city with New York-style cabs

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk ... s-14886890

Council bosses want taxis in the region to be safer, greener, more consistent - and to become part of Greater Manchester’s identity, as in the Big Apple

Taxis across the region could be in line for a radical shake-up as the mayor looks to make them safer, greener, more consistent - and distinctively Manc.

A common livery could be created and rolled out across the conurbation, with bosses looking to New York’s yellow cabs for inspiration.

They want taxis in every borough to be recognisable as from the region - and become part of Greater Manchester’s identity, as in the Big Apple.

Mayor Andy Burnham is preparing to consult with the public and the trade about bringing in a uniform ‘minimum standard’ for both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles.

It is understood that would look at standardised rules for drivers, as well as operators, vehicles and enforcement practices across each of the ten councils.

That could include tougher thresholds around driver qualifications and prior convictions, as well as on the age and emissions levels of individual cabs.

Shared practice among the ten council panels who decide on the region’s licenses could also be introduced.

The process is expected to be rolled out slowly over several years, due to the ongoing issue of drivers from other local authorities crossing the border and undermining standards.

The problem has long been a major bugbear of many councils - and local firms - that require new legislation to solve.

Town hall bosses have been discussing the plans in private for several months and are said to be broadly in agreement that a common approach should be considered.

Senior figures at several town halls across Greater Manchester told the M.E.N. they were in favour of the move in principle.

A ‘high level’ paper on the issue is expected to go before the region’s combined authority at the end of the month, followed by discussions with the trade and a public consultation.

One senior town hall figure said there was ‘an aspiration’ that at some point every borough in the region would operate to standardised minimum rules, but added that could take five to ten years to roll out.

“Drivers, vehicles, operators and licensing authorities would eventually have minimum standards,” they said of the plans.

“But because primary legislation from parliament would also be needed to deal with the drivers coming in from other areas, it’s a bit up in the air whether you could do it before that or not.

“You could start it off, though, perhaps with the livery first.”

It is understood Mr Burnham wants to step up lobbying of both Whitehall and the Local Government Association over the issue of de-regulation, which currently means drivers are free to come in from authorities elsewhere that have less stringent licensing rules.

In the past Rossendale, Sefton and Wolverhampton councils have all been particularly criticised for having lax regimes that are then exported to other parts of the country.

Rossendale has tightened its rules, but that is expected to take a number of years to take effect as individual drivers’ licenses come up for renewal.

One experienced Manchester operator told the M.E.N. that a common standard across Greater Manchester could be good news for firms - and may in itself help stem the tide of drivers from other areas.

Uber has absorbed so many of the city’s drivers that firms are increasingly having to go elsewhere in order to find new ones, he said.

Often that means getting them from authorities that turn around licensing decisions in the space of days - rather than Greater Manchester boroughs, which can take months.

“The easiest thing at the moment is to go to Wolverhampton, because it takes a week to get a badge compared to a year in Manchester,” he said.

“It would be a good thing because operators could then have access to 20,000 drivers across Greater Manchester and they might rethink their strategy.”

Tom Rook, chair of the Greater Manchester Private Hire Association, said a minimum standard was a good idea in principle, since rules on issues such as vehicle age, advertising, driver qualifications, the Knowledge and the cost of an operator’s license currently vary wildly.

“It’s a good idea within reason,” he said.

“You can only say that once we know what the policy is going to be,” he added.

It is understood the mayor’s office is keen to get going on the plan, hoping that licensing committees across Greater Manchester will take a decision on the issue this financial year.

A common livery could be an early win, insiders suggested.

“In New York, you arrive and you instantly see a yellow cab,” said one council figure.

“It’s part of the city’s identity. Visitors to Greater Manchester need to have the same experience.

“It’s a really interesting issue, about how we professionalise it and make it part of the integrated transport system.

“And if you’re going to hit emissions targets, every bit of the jigsaw needs to play its part.”

A second senior council figure elsewhere in the conurbation said the move ‘made sense’, although they suggested a question would quickly arise about who would pay for a common livery.

“The devil will be in the detail,” they added.

A third senior figure in another council said reforming the trade should be a key part of improving the region’s transport network, particularly in areas where bus services are so poor that people rely on cabs to make many basic journeys.

Licensing is not one of the mayor’s functions but one of individual local councils.

However there has long been a debate over whether Greater Manchester could club together into a common framework in order to improve standards across the conurbation.

A spokesperson at the combined authority said: “The ten licensing authorities across Greater Manchester are working together to develop a common set of minimum standards that will give passengers the confidence that drivers and operators meet high safety standards, and ensure that the vehicles used are safe and contribute to wider ambitions including improving air quality.

“In addition to this work, the mayor has been pressing government to change the law and regulations to allow for more local control of taxis and private hire vehicles.”

10/07/18

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Manchester Airport black cab drivers have stopped picking up passengers due to taxi rank dispute

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk ... s-14887189

The row between Unite and airport bosses has escalated through the day, with drivers initially boycotting just the new rank - which is around the corner from the terminal and not visible to passengers

Taxis at the rank at Terminal 3 at Manchester Airport (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Black cab drivers have stopped picking up from all Manchester Airport terminals as part of a dispute over a new T3 taxi rank.

The row between Unite the union and airport bosses has escalated through the day, with drivers initially boycotting just the new rank - which is around the corner from the terminal and not visible to passengers.

Drivers claim this positioning discriminates against disabled passengers - and Hackney cabs.

It takes the place of the current rank, which is closer to the terminal exit and more visible to passengers. It’s been moved to make way for more drop-off bays for a new ‘kiss and fly’ passenger charging system launching on Tuesday.

The new taxi stand is the third in less than a year. The original one had space for 12 cabs, while the new one will take four at a time.

In protest, black cab drivers were using the passenger drop-off bays outside Terminal Three to pick up passengers on Monday afternoon.

But at 6.30pm on Monday, they moved to a full withdrawal of their services

Taxi driver protest at Terminal 3 at Manchester Airport (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Yucel Polat, a driver and Unite rep, said: “We were getting threats and drivers were getting moved on so we moved to a full withdrawal from all terminals. We are getting a strong feeling they don’t want black cabs here.

"At international airports around the world the first thing passengers see when they step outside is a taxi rank. But not here.

Drivers also take issue with the facilities at the feeder park on Ringway Road - where they wait before being directed to the terminals by airport marshalls. They say hundreds of drivers have to share three run-down toilets and that facilities have been left to deteriorate.

Khurshid Anjim, a driver of 20 years, said: “The facilities are diabolical and I’ve seen them get worse over the years.”

A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “Passengers have a wide range of options for travelling to and from Manchester Airport, including train, tram, bus, coach, car, private hire operators and Hackney Carriages.

“It is down to each individual Hackney Carriage driver who is registered with us whether they choose to work on any given day and we note the intention of a group of drivers not to serve our terminals until further notice.

“In developing our new forecourt arrangements, we have had to consider the interests of more than 25 different user groups while coming up with a system that reduces congestion and provides the best possible experience to our customers.

The rank at Terminal 3 (Image: Manchester Evening News)

“We believe we have chosen the best possible location for the Hackney Carriage rank at Terminal 3, from where cars are sent from our dedicated feeder park.

“It is a similar distance away from the terminal than the previous rank, with new signage put in place to guide all arriving passengers to the right location, should they wish to use a Hackney Carriage for their onward journey.

“This signage has been tested with passengers prior to the new rank opening and has proven to be effective.

“We have been in dialogue with the Hackney Carriage community over a number of concerns they have raised about the Terminal 3 rank and believe we have made several concessions in an attempt to resolve the issue.

“Among other things, these include the guarantee of a review of the new system after six weeks and the provision by Manchester Airport of a dedicated taxi marshal inside Terminal 3 to direct arriving passengers to the new rank.

“That is why it is disappointing this action has been taken before the effects on the Hackney trade, if any, are truly known.

“However, we remain committed to working with the Hackney Carriage community to find a solution that is fair to all users of Manchester Airport.”

10/07/18

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A BID to overturn a ban preventing taxis from using a key bus route alongside the Westgate Centre looks set to come to a halt.

Taxis are prevented from using Norfolk Street and Castle Street as a through route by a ban reserving it as a bus link, agreed as part of the 2014 planning permission for the Westgate Centre.

But the City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association (COLTA), which represents drivers of the city’s 107 black cabs, has repeatedly lobbied the county council to allow its drivers to use the link route.

As a result the council staged a consultation in May.

Now it has been completed highways officers are recommending in a report that the ban remains in place for a number of reasons, including the potential worsening of air quality for people in the area if taxis are allowed in.

COLTA chairman Bashir Ahmed urged the council to change its view.

He said: “Taxis would only use the link road when there is solid traffic in Oxpens Road.

“As taxis are not allowed to use the link road at the moment it is adding to journey times for our passengers - we can’t guarantee to get them to their appointments on time - and that includes patients going to hospital.

“We hope the council sees sense and allows us to use the link road - we were using the route before the Westgate Centre opened - we are an essential public service.

“Oxford is a world-famous city - its visitors need to get to the station quickly and allowing us to use the link road would help with that.”

The recommendation will be considered on Thursday by cabinet member for environment Yvonne Constance.

The report said the creation of a new taxi rank in Old Greyfriars Street, which opened in April, should alleviate taxi drivers’ concerns about not being able to use the bus link to drop off passengers’ close to the Westgate Centre.

The report said: “The new bus link delivered as part of the Westgate Centre is a critical piece of transport infrastructure that helps buses to carry thousands of passengers every day into and across the city centre.

“While it may at times appear under-used at present, any spare capacity in the bus link and Castle Street will be needed in future as the city and county grow, and may also help to play a role in helping to relieve pressure on other city streets such as St Aldate’s and High Street.”

The report estimated that between 350 and 400 taxis and private hire vehicles would use the bus link in a 12-hour period, leading to a reduction in air quality.

And it said delays to journey times on Oxpens Road, cited as a problem by COLTA after the Westgate Centre reopened in October, were not sufficient to justify opening up the link route to taxis.

data collected since the opening of the revamped centre showed the average maximum journey time on Oxpens Road, between Frideswide Square and Thames Street, at about 5pm, was 11 minutes.

Changing signage to create an experimental traffic regulation order to allow taxis to use the link route would cost an estimated £70,000 and it would cost a further £20,000 for a survey to monitor the effects of the change.

Sajad Khan, secretary of COLTA, added: “It would be much more convenient for drivers and passengers if taxis could use the link road.”

The recommendation will be discussed at the meeting at County Hall in New Road at 10am, with taxi drivers set to lobby councillors outside the building.

10/07/18

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Man arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after taxi driver is threatened with knife in Wimborne

A MAN has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a taxi driver was threatened with a knife.

Police were called to Wimborne shortly before 11.55pm last night after the incident. The driver had stopped at the BP petrol station in Wimborne Road to ask for directions. He was then approached by a man who threatened him with a knife through an open window.

The taxi driver was able to drive away. He was not injured.

Police arrested a 38-year-old Wimborne man on suspicion of attempted murder and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place. He is continuing to help officers with their investigation.

People living nearby heard a "loud bang" during the night after police rushed to the scene.

Detective Inspector Andy Roberts, of Bournemouth CID, said: “Residents may have heard a loud bang while officers attended the area. I would like to reassure the public that this was a tactic used by officers during the arrest."

He urged any witnesses who have not yet spoken to police to contact officers via dorset.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting 55180106565.

09/07/18

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Uber charged England fan £107 for £10 trip home after leaving meter running for 40 miles after he got out

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6716912/u ... don-luton/

AN Uber customer was furious after the taxi app charged him £107 for a trip to Luton – despite being at home in London.

Nick Brownridge, 32, got off the tube at Lancaster Gate after watching England beat Colombia and ordered a taxi for the five-mile trip home – which usually costs £10.

But he was stunned when he received an email from the firm which said he had been charged £107 for a 40-mile trip to Bedfordshire at 1am.

Nick, from Chiswick, West London, told The Sun Online: “I had just watched the England game and booked an Uber from the tube station to my flat.

“I got out in Chiswick and bought a pizza. I woke up the next day and saw I had been charged £107. “The driver hadn’t ended the trip and he arrived in Luton at 2am and I was charged for the whole journey.

“I contacted Uber on the app and told them I got home at midnight and bought a pizza which proves that I wasn’t in the car. “But bizarrely they said that judging by my trip history they think I made the journey – but I’ve never been to Luton in my life.

“I said ‘is this a joke?’ It’s shocking really. I’ve used Uber hundreds of times and their customer service has been appalling.”

Nick, a senior e-commerce manager at Sky, said there was “no way” the driver had done it by accident and added that he feels he was trying to “pull a fast one”.

He said: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw on the map that he had gone on the M25 and straight up the M1 to Luton. “I’ve paid £107 for a trip to Luton and I've never even been there. I thought I had been hacked or robbed - I didn’t know what was going on.

“I think it could have been done on purpose. I had been watching the England game and I’d obviously had a few drinks. “Maybe the driver thought I was drunk and that I wouldn’t have noticed in the morning. I think he was trying to pull a fast one.”

After The Sun Online contacted Uber the company confirmed they have given Nick a full refund and apologised for the mix-up.

An Uber spokesman said: “We’re sorry to hear about this. We have of course refunded the passenger and are investigating exactly what happened. “Riders always get an emailed receipt from Uber, so if an issue ever arises it can be easily fixed.”

09/07/18

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Two men filmed jumping on Nottingham taxi after England World Cup quarter-final win

https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/loc ... am-1760382

The video shows a large amount of damage has been caused to the car

Shocking footage has emerged of two men jumping up and down on a Nottingham taxi after England beat Sweden in the World Cup quarter-final.

Nottinghamshire police have confirmed that they are investigating the damage caused to the car on Saturday evening - but no arrests have been made.

The two videos show the men on top of the silver car with hundreds of people watching and cheering.

Towards the end of the first video a man in blue denim shorts and a white t-shirt swallow dives off the car after jumping up and down on the bonnet and kicking the windscreen.

Throughout the clip the crowd sings "football's coming home" before cheering when the man jumps

off the vehicle which has a Nottingham Cars' logo on the side.

The second video shows a different man without his shirt on bouncing up and down on the glass roof of the car while the crowd chants.

The video shows a large amount of damage has been caused to the car which was parked just off Old Market Square.

Damage was also done to bus stops on Friar Lane.

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police said: “There are no arrests in relation to the damage caused after the football at this time.

“The damage was caused by unknown offenders but an investigation will take place in due course.

“The car involved in the incident has been taken away.”

The Post has tried to contact Nottingham Cars.

08/07/18

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Calls to close 'loophole' allowing taxi drivers from outside Winchester to operate in city

http://www.hampshirechronicle.co.uk/new ... e_in_city/

TAXI drivers in Winchester are calling for an end to a loophole allowing cabbies from other parts of the country to operate in the city.

Colin Smith, a registered Hackney taxi driver, says drivers from Wolverhampton in the Midlands, are operating in Winchester, despite being licensed in their home city.

Now Winchester City Council has revealed it is lobbying the government to change the law.

In a letter to the council, Mr Smith said: “At the moment there are 15 or more Wolverhampton taxis working in Winchester... Instead of applying to Winchester City Council as they don’t think they can pass the relatively easy knowledge test, they bypass this and get a licence very easily at Wolverhampton, they then can work (cross border) as a private hire worker.”

Mr Smith also raised concerns that these drivers don’t pay fees to the council, are not subject to safety spot checks and are taking work from struggling local cabbies.

A spokesman for the council (WCC) responded to the letter, saying: “The Deregulation Act 2015 enables private hire taxi operators to sub-contract their work to a driver licensed by another local authority subject to certain requirements. We know that private hire operators in Winchester take advantage of this by sending drivers to become licensed by Wolverhampton City Council, and the drivers can return to Winchester and work for these operators.

“We have no reason to believe that Wolverhampton City Council does not licence drivers properly.

“WCC is writing to the government and to Wolverhampton City Council to explain that this current practice is detrimentally affecting our controls over the private hire fleet operating in the district.

“WCC is also joining TFL (Transport for London) to lobby the Government to change the law but until this is done then our controls over the practice are limited.”

However, a spokesman for taxi firm Wintax, the oldest in the city, says that the real problem is the council’s “extremely hard” tests.

The spokesman told the Chronicle: “I myself currently do not have any of those [Wolverhampton licensed] drivers working with us. I still say if the likes of Uber are going to exploit the market then why not the take the same advantage as they did. It is all legal.

“The main issue in Winchester is the test has always been extremely hard for some unknown reason. All drivers from any council that has a legit taxi plate and badge have paid for this and have had an enhanced DBS check at the least.”

He added: “I can not fault [Wolverhampton drivers] because they have just taken advantage of a loop hole that gives them more control. I agree there should be a balance but there has always been an imbalance in Winchester.”

Both Winchester and Wolverhampton city councils have been approached for comment but had not responded at the time of going to press.

In the past the city council has decided to let the market decide how many licensed taxis should operate across the Winchester district. This has seen the number of taxis greatly increase since the early 1990s.

08/07/18

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Taxi hike increase plan for Wigan is delayed

https://www.wigantoday.net/news/transpo ... -1-9238956

A decision that could see Wigan residents dig deeper into their pockets for a ride home has been delayed by the town hall.

The council is considering raising hackney carriage fares for the first time in seven years after a request from drivers. But the authority’s regulation committee has pushed the decision back to its next meeting to allow more time for discussion with union representatives, the council said.

Starting points for three base tariffs- reflecting what time of day journeys have been booked – would rise by 20p, 25p and 40p to £2, £2.50 and £4, respectively, if the application is approve

The request from Charles Oakes of the Hackney Drivers Association said: “It has been some time since hackneys in Wigan have asked…for an increase. The trade now feels it’s time.”

Local authorities set hackney carriage fares as a maximum rate drivers can charge although they can ask for less if they choose to.

Since the request was made in November, the council conducted a consultation for relevant business owners and drivers that received a 17pc response rate.

Of those to respond, 53 supported the increase – which would reflect rising fuel, living and insurance costs – and three were in opposition.

One letter of objection reads: “I feel at the moment there is no reason for a fare rise because the town is not as busy, people do not have the extra cash to pay for fares. I feel the increase will do more harm than good in a poor financial climate.”

Another driver’s letter presented to the committee reads: “The proposed increase is very insignificant yet the public will see it as a fare increase but the proprietors and drivers will see no real benefit.”

Wigan council’s regulation committee meets next on Friday, July 13

07/07/18

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kateboarder left fighting for life after failing to hear electric minicab

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/health/ ... 76581.html

A skateboarder was left critically injured in a road crash after failing to hear an approaching electric minicab.

Theo Fallstrom, 24, suffered a brain haemorrhage, broken left shoulder and damaged right ear in the collision with the hybrid Toyota Prius in Mayfair. But he was saved by medics from London Ambulance Service and London Air Ambulance who arrived in minutes.

Today his mother called air ambulance medics “the SAS of first responders”.

Mr Fallstrom had been skating home at around midnight in Albemarle Street and had been unable to hear the car, powered by its quiet electric motor.

LAS was on the scene in three minutes, followed by an air ambulance fast- response car four minutes later. Its medics Dr David Cooper and paramedic Rob Twitchen put Mr Fallstrom in an induced coma to protect his brain and he was taken to the major trauma centre at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington.

He spent about three weeks in a coma and more than a month of rehabilitation at Wellington Hospital, St John’s Wood, where he had to relearn to talk and walk. His mother Leonie, from Holland Park, told his story at London Air Ambulance summer gala last week.

After the accident on August 20 last year, Mr Fallstrom was bleeding from his ear, flailing around and punching out due to the brain damage. Ms Fallstrom said: “He didn’t hear the electric Prius. The driver on his way to collect a fare didn’t see him.” Describing the effect on the windscreen of him slamming into it she added: “Theo hit with such force he scored a bullseye.

“He needed to be put in a coma, and fast. [The medics] called for silence and performed the complex task. London’s Air Ambulance are the SAS of first responders. These absolutely incredible people and their speed and expertise.”

Theo, a chef at Daylesford organic shop in Marylebone, cannot remember the accident. It was regarded as a “no fault collision”. Theo said: “I feel put back together. If it wasn’t for their speed and skill I wouldn’t be here or quite possibly not able to speak or walk.” It costs £8 million a year to keep LAA’s two helicopters and fleet of fast cars in operation and most is raised from donations.

05/07/18

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Theresa Villiers MP wades in over battle for London's taxis

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/1633 ... ons-taxis/

An MP has called upon the Government to listen to what taxi drivers have to say.

Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers met Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani MP over regulations applying to both taxis and minicabs.

Ms Villiers said: “Many licensed taxi drivers have come to me with their concerns about poor regulation of minicabs and private hire vehicles operated using ride-hailing apps like Uber.

“I made the case for strengthening the rules applied to private hire vehicles on issues such as emissions and disability awareness, so there is a more level playing field between them and licensed taxis, which are already subject to much higher standards.”

Ms Villiers also spoke about cross-border hiring, in which drivers can apply for a licence outside of their home town to avoid rules on mini-cabs.

She also said companies like Uber should pay their share of tax.

She said: “We need minimum national standards for licensing minicab drivers.

“It’s important to maintain competition between different types of taxi, but we should try to ensure that it is fair competition.”

05/07/18

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New laws for Liverpool cabbies - including a BAN on hated up front charges

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... g-14866166

Council crackdown after Echo campaign

Liverpool's black cab drivers could be set to come under a new set of rules that would include a ban on charging customer's upfront - an issue that has been repeatedly raised in the city.

The council's licensing committee will consider creating a number of new byelaws for black cabs at a meeting next week.

Drivers would be stopped from demanding any kind of upfront payment from passengers travelling in Liverpool or that end within four miles of the council border.

The planned move from the council comes after a campaign by the ECHO which highlighted how a number of black cab drivers are continuing to demand large fares from customers ahead of journeys - rather than using the cab's Taximeter.

As we have always pointed out - the majority of drivers in the city operate very well - but many drivers agree they are being let down by the minority.

And it appears the council have listened to these concerns.

Other new laws planned

Along with the clamp-down on charging up front - the council is planning to bring in a number of other new by-laws for cabbies in Liverpool.

Passengers could get increased rights when it comes to paying, with all drivers that have a card machine required to use it if asked.

Customers who want a receipt would be backed by a new by-law which requires drivers to give one if requested.

The use of e-cigarettes by drivers will also be banned under one of the new rules.

And wheelchair users would be the beneficiary of a rule requiring all drivers to be fully aware of how to use the wheelchair ramp in their cars, as well as other features.

The proposed rules are specifically for Hackney cabs, with private hire taxis subject to their own set of rules.

Once debated at a meeting next Tuesday the rules would go to the full council to be voted on.

It comes as

Liverpool council continues a crackdown on black cabs and private hire taxis which flout rules, with prosecutions of individual drivers continuing.

Trade problems

The ECHO has been covering some of the problems with the taxi trade in the city for some time.

As we have said, we know that the majority of drivers operate professionally and treat customers well - but a number of passengers have come forward with stories of over-charging, cherry picking and charging large fares up front.

This has been particularly prevalent during football matches, where it has been reported that fans - often from foreign countries or different cities - have been charged extortionate fares before even getting into a cab.

Our reporting led to Mayor Joe Anderson committing to increasing undercover operations by the council during football matches in an attempt to catch drivers acting badly in person.

And now it would appear that the council wants to go a step further and introduce a range of specific new by-laws to tackle the issues affecting the trade.

05/07/18

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Taxi drivers in Swindon welcome plans for CCTV

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news ... _welcomed/

TAXIS in Swindon might all need to be fitted with CCTV to have a licence from the council.

The council will meet next Thursday to discuss proposals that may make CCTV mandatory in all private hire and hackney carriage vehicles.

A report by the Licensing Authority said: “The installation of CCTV in licensed vehicles can be both a deterrent and would-be trouble maker and a source of evidence in cases of disputes between drivers and passengers.

“The Licensing Authority receives complaints and allegations regarding behaviour of a driver with passengers and sometimes complaints from drivers.

"Unfortunately, there have been occasions where a driver’s licence has been suspended or revoked, following investigations, due to inappropriate behaviour.”

There are currently four drivers who have recently retained their licences following serious allegations made against them after they agreed to have CCTV installed in their cars.

It added: “Officers are of the opinion the overarching principle behind the licensing of private hire and hackney carriage vehicles is one of public safety.”

Most taxi drivers are classed as self-employed but require a licence from the council to legally operate. However, there may be some concern local taxi drivers about extra cost this will have on them.

The council report added: “There may be a direct financial implication for individual licence holders arising from the proposal recommended by this report. However, it is considered that the benefits in respect of protecting both the public and drivers outweighs the financial implications.”

The Taxi drivers which spoke to the Adver appear to be fully behind the proposals.

Abdul Rumhid, who lives in Stratton, told the Adver: “It would make it a lot safer. We get a lot of problems from youngsters on weekends. It’s a good idea and would help the people working late in the night.”

Samater Mohammed, who lives on Broad Street, said: “CCTV is good for safety for drivers and for passengers. Most of the drivers here use it already. Friday and Saturday night, we can get aggressive customers, so I use it. I support the idea.”

Laval Carver, who also drives on weekends, said: “It’s definitely good for your safety. I don’t really need it because I’m quite safe in here. I wouldn’t mind, even if it costs me money.

“If you do nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to worry about. They will think twice before running away,” he added.

If the council agrees to the proposals all new vehicles licensed with the council on or after October 1 2018 will be fitted with CCTV following an 8 week consultation period.

Vehicles already licensed with the council will have until October 2019 to become compliant.

In October a taxi driver was jailed at Swindon Crown Court for 24 months for groping four female passengers over a four-year period.

In the same month three men were arrested following an unprovoked attack on an innocent 28-year-old driver who had taken the group from Cricklade Road to the Super marine Sports Club on a Sunday night.

All three were later released under investigation.

03/07/18

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Warning over rogue taxi drivers in Hartlepool

A Hartlepool taxi driver has highlighted the dangers of what he says is a growing problem of unlicensed taxis operating in the town. Cabbie Neil Handisides says he has seen a rise in the amount of private vehicles taking cash from passengers, especially late night revellers in Hartlepool town centre on weekends.

The hackney carriage driver is warning of the dangers to passengers and has called on the police to do more to tackle reports. Cleveland Police and licensing chiefs at Hartlepool Borough Council are warning the public not to use unlicensed cabs for their own safety.

Mr Handisides, a self-employed taxi driver for almost 20 years, said: “It’s a massive problem in Hartlepool. Some people are bragging they are earning £200 to £300 a weekend. “It is not just one or two cars it is 10 or 20. I’m getting a lot of information off other taxi drivers as well. “People don’t realise once they get in that car and they are going to make a payment it invalidates that person’s insurance because they are not insured for public or private hire.”

He added: “It is a long drawn out process to get a taxi badge. You have to be a fit and proper person. “Someone is going to get sexually assaulted or assaulted by one of these fake taxi drivers. “The police could show a presence but they don’t.”

A council spokesman said: “The issue of unlicensed taxis concerns us as people using such vehicles are potentially putting themselves at risk. “Only licensed vehicles have the correct insurance and drivers are carefully vetted before being granted a licence.” They said it is best to pre-book through established companies, and licensed taxis are yellow with signs on their doors and plates and drivers have badges.

Chief Inspector Nigel Burnell said: “We are always grateful for information from the public and with our colleagues in the Community Safety Team we’03/07/18ll work together on concerns raised. “If you see an unlicensed taxi do report it to the council and joint action will be taken. “The council regulates private hire vehicles and from a safety point of view we’d advise anyone against using an unlicensed taxi – you simply don’t know who you’re travelling with.”

Anyone with information about unlicensed taxis is urged to call the council on (01429) 523354 or email [email protected]

Read more at: https://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/w ... -1-9228326

02/07/18

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Taxi fares set to increase by three per cent in Poole

TAXI fares in Poole are set to increase by three per cent this year. If approved by the council’s licensing committee, the rise could potentially come into effect in May and will affect hackney carriages – taxis that are allowed to pick people up from the street.

The request for an increase in maximum fares was made by the Poole taxi trade and, if implemented, will see Poole’s fares match those recently approved in Bournemouth. The current cost of a one-mile journey on the basic day rate is £4.44, however this would increase to £4.58.

It currently costs £2.24 per mile thereafter, but this would increase to £2.31, meaning a two-mile journey would cost £6.89, a three-mile journey £9.20, a four-mile journey £11.51, and a five-mile journey £13.82. The cost of the first mile on the 'unsocial hours' tariff is currently £5.91, but this would increase to £6.10 (£3.08 per mile thereafter).

In a report to committee members, licensing manager Frank Wenzel stressed the economic benefits the taxi trade brings to the town, “enabling visitors to move quickly and safely around local areas”. “To enable this taxis and PHVs have a particularly important role in this day-to-day transport network, especially in the night-time economy, ensuring the public return home safely, and in ensuring that people can disperse quickly and peacefully after events,” he said.

Poole’s taxi trade made the request for a rise in fares in February so that they will be in line with Bournemouth’s. The formula for calculating changes in fares in Bournemouth was adopted by Poole in 2010. This formula uses changes in national wage levels and the cost of motoring to calculate a percentage change in costs, which is applied to taxi fares.

Since the introduction of the formula, taxi fares have increased at the same level across Bournemouth and Poole, and in 2012 the taxi trade in Poole adopted the same fare chart used in Bournemouth. If the new rates are agreed by the licensing committee, they will be advertised in the press and anyone who objects to the increases will have 14 days to make a written objection.

02/07/18

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Call for taxi register ahead of Leeds Clean Air Zone charges

https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/ ... -1-9226473

FEARS have been raised that taxi and private hire vehicle drivers from Leeds could be unfairly penalised under a proposed Clean Air Charging Zone for the city.

Leeds City Council’s Conservative Group leader Coun Andrew Carter has called for the Government to set up register of all taxis and private hire vehicles.

He made the comments as proposals for a Clean Air Charging Zone – which would tax high-emission buses, HGVs and taxis in the city – were put before Leeds City Council’s Executive Committee.

Coun Carter said: “I am very concerned that it seems to me to be essential that the Government needs to come up with a register for taxis and private hire vehicles.

“It would be very easy for private hire vehicles to drive in through our charging zone and not be charged, where a vehicle from Leeds can travel elsewhere and will be charged. This is unacceptable and unsustainable.

“We will be writing to secretary of state Michael Gove urging him to make it happen sooner rather than later.”

Following the meeting, Zahid Mahmood, vice chair of Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organisation, said: “They need to build a database of drivers. We don’t want to see drivers with ten-year-old cars from Bradford being exempt from the clean air charge when drivers from Leeds will have to pay it.”

Coun James Lewis, deputy leader of Leeds City Council, told the meeting: “I don’t think anyone would argue against doing this work, and in the directive we are under we have to work very quickly.

“There will be a report next month looking at the additional measures around the areas of illegal air quality to improve it.

“In addition to the charging zone, we are looking at things that we can encourage the take-up of low emission vehicles, working with the government on Highways England roads, such as the M62 through Leeds.”

He added that the council has ambitions to set up a scrappage scheme for high-emission vehicles.

The scheme would see high-emission HGVs and buses being charged £50 a day, while taxis and private hire vehicles registered in the city would pay £50 a week.

It is hoped that the measures will encourage motorists using the city centre to drive modern, greener vehicles – which would not be charged.

30/06/18

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Wolverhampton licence protest off after council bosses threaten legal action

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/loc ... al-action/

A taxi protest has been called off after council bosses threatened legal action against any drivers taking part.

The West Midlands Private Hire Drivers’ Association (WMPHDA) had organised the ‘go-slow’ protest for Thursday over Wolverhampton Council’s private hire licensing system, which they say makes to too easy for people to get a licence.

It was due to take place on Thursday and could have seen the city centre grind to a standstill, with hundreds of drivers travelling from all over the country to take part.

But the protest has now been called off after the authority threatened to invoke legislation designed to stop car cruisers, which forbids large numbers of vehicles driving in a convoy or causing an obstruction on a public highway, whether moving or stationary.

Bosses at the WMPHDA say they plan to apply for a temporary suspension lifting the injunction, allowing them to run the protest at a later date.

Spokesman Shaz Saleem said: “Due to the bullying tactics of Wolverhampton Council, Thursday’s protest has now been postponed.

“This is not the end of the matter. We will be applying for the injunction to be lifted temporarily, and we are also looking at other protests such as a walking march through the city.

"If the council wants to play games we will fight back.”

The protest was to see private hire vehicles drive through the city at 20mph.

It was widely publicised on social media and had attracted interest from drivers from all over the country.

Council licensing manager Chris Howell, said the authority had not received official confirmation that the protest was off.

He added: “The council are in discussions with the organisers, to ensure that the safety of the public is not unduly compromised, and will continue to seek an agreement through dialogue which will prevent drivers from carrying out a reckless and potentially illegal protest within our city.”

Please visit the website to view a video about the testing - it's mainly about how they test the applicant's English skills.

WATCH: ‘It’s not easy' - Inside Wolverhampton's taxi licence test room

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/loc ... test-room/

‘Our licensing process is the best and the strongest there is. I’d put it up against any other in the country.’

Image

Nigel Todd has had enough of people criticising Wolverhampton Council’s private hire licensing system.

The 60-year-old former paratrooper and police officer has been delivering licensing courses for 16 years, and he is adamant that the city’s current process offers the best service out there.

In recent months he has felt like he is in the minority, as critics line up to accuse the council of doling out licences fast and cheap in an effort to make a quick buck.

“A lot of the criticism is completely unfair,” says Nigel, who heads a team of three that run training programmes as part of a joint initiative between Wolverhampton and Worcestershire County Council.

“It is rubbish to say it is easy to get a licence here. We have a 44 per cent failure rate. Just because the process is easy does not mean it is easy to pass.”

The council charges £69 for a licence – far lower than most other authorities – and drivers can be licensed in just 20 days.

“A lot of the criticism is completely unfair,” says Nigel, who heads a team of three that run training programmes as part of a joint initiative between Wolverhampton and Worcestershire County Council.

“It is rubbish to say it is easy to get a licence here. We have a 44 per cent failure rate. Just because the process is easy does not mean it is easy to pass.”

The council charges £69 for a licence – far lower than most other authorities – and drivers can be licensed in just 20 days.

Anyone applying in Wolverhampton must attend a four-hour training session, including guidance on conditions of licence, disability awareness, child sexual exploitation and safeguarding. It is followed by a multiple-choice test.

A recent class at the Bert Williams Leisure Centre was attended by 14 candidates, including people from Rochdale, Nottingham, Derby, Coventry, Birmingham and Sandwell.

One driver was from Wolverhampton.

It highlights one of the major criticisms the city has faced.

If a driver from say, Weymouth, is licensed in Wolverhampton, there is surely no way they can be checked on by the city once they are operating four hours away down on the south coast?

“Not true,” says Nigel, pointing out that compliance officers from Wolverhampton regularly carry out checks in other local authority areas.

He says they recently visited Southampton and went out with police, stopping Wolverhampton licensed vehicles to make sure they were not breaking the law.

“We’re not letting people run wild when they are out of the area. We will check on them to make sure they obey our rules. We go to other areas and ask them if they would like to run joint compliance exercises with us, and some of them say ‘no, you’ve caused the problem you fix it’.

“It would be better if they worked with us instead of against us.”

Wolverhampton’s training course contains no formal English test – another criticism often levelled at the authority.

Instead drivers’ grasp of the lingo is tested through an informal chat, followed by a series of job related questions posed by a training officer in private.

One man produces a French licence as ID and is clearly struggling to understand English. He is asked to leave the course, as is another gentleman who greets the question ‘Where are you from?’ with a blank look.

Concerns have also been raised over a wider public safety issue, with the authority accused of failing to carry out stringent criminal records checks or checks to see if drivers have been banned elsewhere.

“You have to be a fit and proper person to be a driver and there is an enhanced DBS check and checks to see if they have been licensed with other authorities,” said Nigel.

“There is no central database to check whether drivers have been refused by other authorities – although there is talk of that happening and I think everyone would agree it is a good idea.”

So why are so many people coming to Wolverhampton for a licence?

Athikur Rahman, from Birmingham, said: “The process takes a lot longer in Birmingham. In Wolverhampton it is very quick. If I get a licence I get the choice to drive in Wolverhampton or Birmingham.”

At the end of the session, six out of the original group of 14 – 43 per cent – have passed and will be licensed by the city as private hire drivers. Later that day in another session the pass rate was again 6/14.

While Nigel argues that the pass rate is low, for other local authorities it is potentially 12 drivers that could have been licensed in their areas.

And for Wolverhampton drivers, it is 12 newbies who may be competing with them for custom.

As far as Nigel is concerned, it is a simple case of supply and demand, with Wolverhampton better than others at responding to the 2015 law change.

“Wolverhampton Council did not change the law, it changed with the law,” he said.

“We are providing a fantastic service at a cheaper price. How is that wrong?”

30/06/18

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Proposed charges for disabled taxi drivers branded “discriminatory”

https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/lo ... iminatory/

Dundee taxi drivers with medical conditions may be hit with a £50 bill or to be exempt from a law requiring them to assist disabled passengers – or face criminal charges.

Under the 2010 Equality Act, drivers of designated wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) must carry a passenger in a wheelchair without any additional charge, carry the wheelchair if necessary and give the passenger mobility assistance. Failure to do so is classed as a criminal offence.

However, if the taxi driver has medical issues of their own, they can apply for an exemption from these duties.

Until now, Dundee City Council has not had an official process for this, instead making “informal” adjustments to drivers’ working practices.

If plans for new procedures are approved, drivers will have to pay a £50 fee for the council to process their request and issue them with an exemption certificate.

The GMB trade union has branded the plans “discriminatory” to disabled drivers.

Willie Lees, head rep for GMB’s Dundee taxi branch, said: “We feel that the £50 fee is discriminatory – people shouldn’t have to pay to go to work.

“Dundee has a mixed fleet of WAVs and saloon cars, meaning that disabled taxi drivers in WAVs would have to pay this charge, while those driving saloon cars will not, as they’re not required to assist disabled passengers in the first place.

“That means some drivers will face higher costs than others, just to be able to do their job.

“These exemptions would have to be verified by a GP, which would add extra charges – you could be looking at another £100 for them to fill in the form. So a taxi driver could be paying up to £150 for this exemption.

“The council’s taxi policy is all over the place and they’re putting the cart before the horse here.”

Following an impassioned deputation by Mr Lees, the council licencing committee deferred the matter until September, when councillors are expected to make a final decision.

Licensing committee convener Stewart Hunter said: “I understand that no one wants to have to pay a fee but the council would have to recoup the costs of processing these applications.

“Right now we can make reasonable adjustments for disabled taxi drivers, but they don’t have any official document saying they’re exempt from assisting disabled passengers.

“With this new process they would be issued with a certificate.”

30/06/18

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Taxi driver banned for a month after being caught on yellow lines three times

https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/not ... er-1731293

He was banned as part of the penalty points system to improve the standards of drivers

A cabbie was banned from working after giving "a royal wave" to a council officer who found two bald tyres on his taxi.

The incident took place after he caught in a layby outside the Royal Concert Hall when the nearest taxi rank was full, Nottingham Magistrates' Court heard.

Driver Javed Iqbal said he was planning to do a U-turn and was about to obey the officer's order to move off. But there were other cabs leaving the spot and a bus was coming.

"I was about to move. He didn't give me a chance," said Mr Iqbal, 48, of Langdale Road, Bakersfield. He told the court his taxi recently passed its MoT test but mechanical problems caused the tyres to wear quickly.

Community protection officer James Brough told city magistrates: "I asked him to move and got a royal wave.

"I gave him a chance to go. He moved four or five feet. He didn't want to move out of the layby.

"OK, I said 'I am going to examine your vehicle.' That is what we do," said Mr Brough, who found Mr Iqbal's licence details were not visible.

One tyre's tread was below the legal minimum. Another was slightly better but still under the tread depth allowed on cabs licensed by the council, added Mr Brough.

That led to a £200 fine and three penalty points b

eing put on Iqbal's driving licence. He accepted this but lodged an appeal against the council's decision to suspend his licence for a month because he was caught three times on double yellow lines.

Lucy Jones, who represented him, said the suspension was "disproportionate."

She told the court all drivers - not just cabbies - can stop on the lines to drop off passengers.

"He has got whacked another bit on top. He would be four weeks without income. If that had been a fine imposed by this court, it would be excessive," added Miss Jones.

The court was told that Mr Iqbal's vehicle was seen parked on a road near a school, where residents and teaching staff had raised road safety concerns.

On another occasion he stopped on Beastmarket Hill with no passengers round - and was also caught on Carlton Hill.

Magistrates upheld the four-week suspension, which had been ordered by the council.

Presiding JP Jennifer Cain-Fowkes told him: "It was a proportionate response to the circumstances of your driving history and fitness to be a private hire licence holder."

Sarah Mills, for the Nottingham City Council, told the court the authority had a penalty points system to improve standards among taxi drivers.

"Is he a fit and proper person to be trusted to convey the travelling public? That is the test," added Miss Mills. Mr Iqbal was ordered to pay £500 towards the council's costs.

30/06/18

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Uber investigates 1,100 drivers for serious offences

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/uber ... -zpqwlthgg

Uber has secretly investigated more than 2,500 of its London drivers for offences including sex assaults, stalking and dangerous driving, according to documents given to regulators. A similar number of the taxi company’s drivers outside London are believed to be under investigation.

It has also emerged Uber conducted medical checks and sight tests for at least 800 would-be drivers over the internet, using Skype, rather than a physical examination.

The disclosures will feature in Uber’s court appeal against its ban from London, a process that starts tomorrow. Its licence was revoked by Transport for London (TfL) in September after The Sunday Times revealed police had accused Uber of failing to report six sex attacks and three other crimes by drivers to avoid “damaging [its] reputation”.

Uber will continue to operate in London until the appeal ends. It is also fighting bans in Brighton, York and Reading. To prepare its case Uber began a review in March of “any historical serious incident . . . reported” to the company that it may have previously ignored.

In a “strictly confidential” letter to Helen Chapman, TfL’s general manager of taxi and private hire, dated May 25, Tom Elvidge, Uber’s UK general manager, says 1,148 London-licensed Uber drivers had been accused of “category A” offences such as sexual incidents, stalking and dangerous driving. Uber also investigated 1,402 London drivers who had been the subject of repeated complaints for lower-level misbehaviour, such as discriminatory comments and “inappropriate interpersonal conduct” towards passengers.

The letter said Uber had banned 451 London-licensed drivers as a result of the review. It had reported 58 previously undisclosed crimes against passengers to police. The review uncovered more than 120 other crimes against passengers by London Uber drivers. Some had already been reported to police by the victim, TfL or the company.

Elvidge said Uber was “considering” whether to report some of the others. At least 14 “typically minor common assault cases” were “too historic to report”.

The review was national, Elvidge said. The number of investigations outside London is not stated but about half Uber’s drivers work outside the capital.

“Uber ignored or covered up misconduct and criminality on a far wider scale than we ever suspected,” said Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), which represents London’s black cab operators. “The original police protest was about nine crimes. Now we discover that Uber knew about, but failed to report, dozens, even hundreds of crimes.”

In her statement for the appeal, Chapman says Uber has “engaged in a more positive way” since its licence was withdrawn. But she adds the regulator still has “some concern . . . whether trust and confidence can be placed in the commitments made.”

She attacks Uber for cutting corners on health and eyesight checks. At least 800 were conducted over the internet “by video link”, making them “prone to either manipulation or error.”

Chapman said would-be drivers were sent a sight test card, with rows of letters diminishing in size, along with a 1.5m length of string to show them how far to place it from their eyes. They were supposed to read the letters into a video camera but there was little to stop them looking at the card before the test.

TfL demanded the eye exams were redone in person but Uber continues to defend the short-cut, Chapman said. Uber declined to comment.

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30/06/18

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Disabled people across West Dorset are not protected when getting a taxi

http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/163180 ... ng-a-taxi/

A lack of action over new rules for disabled taxi passengers by councils have left them vulnerable to being exploited by taxi firms, says a leading disability charity.

Research undertaken by Muscular Dystrophy UK has revealed that councils across West Dorset haven’t put measures in place when it comes to protecting disabled taxi passengers from being overcharged when getting a taxi.

West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council have admitted that they have not compiled Section 167 lists, which are needed to hold taxi drivers to account if they discriminate against disabled passengers.

This was despite a government-recommended deadline of October 2017 leaving disabled passengers vulnerable.

It comes after a change in the Equality Act in April last year came into effect, which means that taxi drivers face a fine of up to £1,000 if they refuse to transport wheelchair users or attempt to charge extra.

However, it emerged that this rule would only apply to vehicles listed on Section 167 lists, which councils create themselves.

The government recommends councils create these lists – but they are not mandatory.

Doug Paulley, co-author of the study, said: "This new research provides a mixed bag of results: while some councils have made an effort to create a list, many have fallen foul of the complex fine print in the rules, leaving most passengers unable to use the new legislation. Councils alone can’t unpick the confusion.

"We need to see a stronger lead from the Department for Transport if disabled people are to get the tools they need to challenge overcharging and unsafe practices."

At the same time, the charity also found that only 6 (8 per cent) of vehicles licensed by Weymouth and Portland and only 20 (11 per cent) of vehicles licensed by West Dorset District Council were wheelchair accessible.

A Department for Transport spokesman stressed that disabled people must have the same access to transport services that others take for granted.

They added: "It is unacceptable that a minority of taxi and private hire vehicle drivers continue to discriminate against wheelchair users."

However in response, a spokesman for the West Dorset District and Weymouth and Portland Borough Cou

ncils said: "Our councils are working on a new policy which will incorporate the Section 167 lists, it is due to come into operation in the autumn."

29/06/18

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Tory councillor tells Uber to stay out of Southend following London court ruling

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/1631976 ... -southend/

UBER has been told to stay away from Southend after it won the right to operate in London.

The controversial cab firm was awarded a temporary licence for the capital this week after previously being denied a five year licence over safety fears for passengers.

The company accepted it had made “serious mistakes” and Transport for London was correct in its September decision. But it told an appeal hearing this week it had made reforms.

Tony Cox, conservative councillor for Shoebury, has been a fierce opponent to Uber due to being concerned about the safety of the taxi service.

He said: “It’s a hollow victory.

“I was saying long before TFL took notice that Uber wasn’t fit for purpose or to hold an operator’s licence.

“I was shocked it took them so long to do something about it.

“They compromised people’s safety.

"You actually cannot get an Uber car in Southend now - we are too much of a thorn in their side.

“They are not welcome here and if they ever want to come here I will campaign heavily against them.

“It’s good riddance.”

Uber was asking for a five-year licence when TFL rejected the application but the judge issued the shorter one with stringent conditions after concluding the firm had made “rapid and very recent” changes.

Under the licence, Uber must inform the Metropolitan Police of criminal allegations, face regular independent audits and not employ anyone who has helped evade law enforcement.

Judge Arbuthnot also ordered Uber to pay TfL’s £425,000 legal costs.

John Watson, managing director of Southend-based AC Taxis, said: “We as a trade are disappointed with the ruling as there are clearly lots of public safety issues in the way Uber operate.

“These haven’t been addressed, for an example they will be operating in areas where the local enforcement officers will have no authority over them.

"As for Southend, Uber does not have a Southend licence so had decided two months ago to geo-fence their app meaning TFL cars are unable to work in Southend.

“Our view is that Uber is welcome to work in Southend as long as they have a Southend licence so their drivers are kept to the high Southend Safety Standards.”

Mark Flew



itt, cabinet member for public protection, added: “We understand Uber has been given a short term licence to continue to operate in London, and we will be monitoring the situation for further developments.”

29/06/18

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Call for taxi register ahead of Leeds Clean Air Zone charges

https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/ ... -1-9226473

FEARS have been raised that taxi and private hire vehicle drivers from Leeds could be unfairly penalised under a proposed Clean Air Charging Zone for the city.

Leeds City Council’s Conservative Group leader Coun Andrew Carter has called for the Government to set up register of all taxis and private hire vehicles.

He made the comments as proposals for a Clean Air Charging Zone – which would tax high-emission buses, HGVs and taxis in the city – were put before Leeds City Council’s Executive Committee.

Coun Carter said: “I am very concerned that it seems to me to be essential that the Government needs to come up with a register for taxis and private hire vehicles.

“It would be very easy for private hire vehicles to drive in through our charging zone and not be charged, where a vehicle from Leeds can travel elsewhere and will be charged. This is unacceptable and unsustainable.

“We will be writing to secretary of state Michael Gove urging him to make it happen sooner rather than later.”

Following the meeting, Zahid Mahmood, vice chair of Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organisation, said: “They need to build a database of drivers. We don’t want to see drivers with ten-year-old cars from Bradford being exempt from the clean air charge when drivers from Leeds will have to pay it.”

Coun James Lewis, deputy leader of Leeds City Council, told the meeting: “I don’t think anyone would argue against doing this work, and in the directive we are under we have to work very quickly.

“There will be a repo

rt next month looking at the additional measures around the areas of illegal air quality to improve it.

“In addition to the charging zone, we are looking at things that we can encourage the take-up of low emission vehicles, working with the government on Highways England roads, such as the M62 through Leeds.”

He added that the council has ambitions to set up a scrappage scheme for high-emission vehicles.

The scheme would see high-emission HGVs and buses being charged £50 a day, while taxis and private hire vehicles registered in the city would pay £50 a week.

It is hoped that the measures will encourage motorists using the city centre to drive modern, greener vehicles – which would not be charged.

29/06/18

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https://www.taxi-point.co.uk

New policies since Uber’s London licence rejection in September 2017 shouldn’t be considered in the forthcoming appeal says London Assemby member Caroline Pidgeon.

The chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee went on to say she expects “a full examination of whether Uber were a fit and proper operator” in the court appeal starting next week as Uber look to win back its London operators licence.

Caroline Pidgeon told TaxiPoint: “What I expect from the appeal hearing is quite simple – a full examination of whether Uber were a fit and proper operator to have their licence renewed at the time that TfL made their decision last September.

“TfL decision was based on extensive evidence about the record of Uber and it is vital that this information is fully examined.“

“What I do not believe is relevant is statements made and new policies adopted by Uber since last September as the only relevant issue of the appeal hearing is the facts and evidence that existed at the time of the initial decision.”

Recently, Ms Pidgeon has also warned Mayor Sadiq Khan of the dangers posed by Uber drivers using mobile phones to accept jobs while at the wheel. She highlighted the fact that the Uber app effectively forces drivers to interact with their phone while driving.

The Assembly Member urged the mayor to speak to the Met Police about issuing similar guidance in London.

The London Assembly transport leader told LTDA’s TAXI: “It is against the law to use your phone whilst driving, yet many apps expect drivers to interact whilst driving, which puts all road users at risk.”

24/06/18

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Taxis to be allowed in Belfast bus lanes

The vast majority of taxis are to be allowed into bus lanes in Belfast for a year - including the lanes earmarked for the new Rapid Transit System. Class A taxis, also called private hire taxis, will be able to use bus lanes where certain taxis are being permitted as part of an "experimental scheme."

The Department for Infrastructure says the extensive trial is needed. It said a 12-week experiment allowing taxis into bus lanes last year proved inconclusive.

"Taking account of evidence that at least a year is needed to have full confidence in the evidence produced, the department has initiated work to undertake a more extensive trial lasting 12 months which will extend to all bus lanes where certain taxis are currently permitted", a spokesman said.

The department plans to introduce the year long scheme before the Belfast Rapid Transit System launches in September. "In making a decision to undertake a further trial the department has considered the level of demand for access which was evident from the responses to the trial and the recent consultation on 12-hour bus lanes on the Belfast Rapid Transit routes," a spokesman added.

The decision has been welcomed by private taxi operators including Karl Bennett, the managing director of Eastside Taxis in east Belfast. "When arguing for this, we felt it was beneficial, not just to ourselves as depot owners and indeed drivers, but we felt for those users, I mean we are service providers, we are providing a service for people on a daily basis, whether it be people going to hospital, people who are disabled who need access," he said.

"But we also believe there was a benefit in the traffic congestion and I think the evidence has played right and I think the Department for Infrastructure have made the right decision based on the evidence."

Promoters of public transport have warned that allowing taxis into bus lanes could impact on the success of the New Rapid Transit System. Gordon Clarke is the Director of Sustrans NI. "We've got to share the space and I think we've got to allocate more space for cycling, that's the cycle network", he said.

Public transport is the answer to our congestion because public transport is the most efficient way of moving people in and out of cities and the future of Belfast with the plans to bring in 60,000 more people living, 45,000 more jobs, you can only achieve that with a really good public transport system.

"So I don't want to see anything that compromises public transport and I kind of feel that allowing taxis into bus lanes, that's a big risk and it's one that's not worth taking."

The Department has said it is aware of the opposition to allowing Class A taxis to use bus lanes and will continue to work to achieve the best outcome for all.

A spokesperson for Translink said: "Bus routes are essential for the state of the art, high frequency Belfast Rapid Transit "Glider" system, which will be introduced in September. "We await the outcome of the impact of this trial on public transport."

A consultation on the experimental scheme is due to take place later this spring.

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24/06/18

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Why black cabs could disappear from streets of Birmingham

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/m ... s-14808377

Double whammy of clean air zone and strict licensing rules means many will desert trade

Birmingham’s black cab drivers are switching to cheaper and more easily available private hire cars to beat new clean air rules.

And they have warned they will ‘make a noise’ to protect their jobs unless more help is made available to the struggling trade.

Birmingham’s Hackney Carriage drivers have been told to swap their ageing and heavily polluting cars for new electric vehicles, or convert them to run on gas if they wish to keep their licences after January 1, 2020.

Both the new licensing regime and plans for a clean air zone means that the vast majority of black cabs on the roads will either not be licensed or be charged to operate in the city centre.

With new electric black cabs costing at least £55,000, many drivers have instead decided to apply for the less strict private hire licence - under which they can drive regular petrol cars made after 2006 and diesel cars since 2015.

The decision to axe licences for high polluting cabs from 2020 was made last year, amid warnings that it would leave just 70 black cabs on the road, down from the current level of more than 1,300.

Taxi driver and RMT union representative Mozafar Ali said the future for drivers is ‘very unclear’ and called on council bosses to make detailed plans to help drivers.

“We are not very happy, about 90 per cent of black cab drivers cannot afford an electric car - it is £55,000 or £176 per week to lease them. We are struggling as it is.”

He said drivers want to see firm offers of help to go green or the city risks being short of cabs. "Otherwise we are going to have to make a noise," he warned.

The authority has claimed cabs – which queue in ranks with engines running – were partly responsible for the city centre’s high levels of nitrogen dioxide, which causes an estimated 900 premature deaths a year in Birmingham.

The taxi drivers say they work in the city centre and want cleaner vehicles too - but need help.

Now city council bosses are offering parallel licences in a single application - to offer black cab drivers the chance to gain a private hire license, which has less stringent requirements, without paying extra.

The council believes there is an increasing demand from black cab drivers for private hire licences.

A licensing officer said: “This increase is for two reasons. One is because a lot of drivers would like to work for Uber, whether that is right or not is up to them.

"And there’s an imminent requirement to replace the older and more polluting hackney carriage vehicles.”

He said they are looking to ‘diversify’ into private hire driving until the costs of electric or greener black cabs comes down enough for them to go back.

The first electric cab dealership in Birmingham was launched this week.

As part of its consultation on the clean air zone the council has pledged to look at a leasing scheme for green cabs.

21/06/18

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olice investigate use of unlicensed, illegal taxis in Derbyshire town

Posters are being displayed to raise awareness

Image

Young adults are being warned of the dangers of getting into unlicensed taxis after a number of incidents were reported to police.

Police are investigating and Amber Valley Borough Council has launched an awareness drive following reports of the illegal vehicles being used in and around Ripley.

The new campaign aims to teach people of the signs and crucial steps they need to take to ensure the taxi they are getting in is genuine.

The council has received eight complaints from members of the public and genuine taxi drivers about unlicensed vehicles in recent weeks. These reports have then been passed to the police.

Several campaign posters are being displayed in and around Ripley town centre including late night bars and clubs.

The posters encourage taxi users to be aware of the dangers of getting into a car with an unlicensed driver.

One of the posters warns: "If your taxi is not licensed it's just a stranger's car".

The message is accompanied by an image of an 'illegal' driver looking suspiciously at his passenger via his rear-view mirror.

Image

All licensed vehicles display a plate at the rear of the vehicle giving a personal licence number and the driver of the vehicle will also wear an ID badge showing his or her photograph - confirming he or she has passed necessary background checks.

Councillor Jane Orton, responsible for community safety at Amber Valley Borough Council, said: “We are very concerned for the safety of young people who are using unlicensed taxis.

"We would also urge parents to check on how their sons and daughters are getting home and to help us pass on the safety-first message.

"Young people can be particularly vulnerable after a night out and so it is very important they make the right choices when deciding how they will get home.”

Image







21/06/18

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Street pastor calls for 'Taxi Marshall' scheme in Nantwich

https://www.crewechronicle.co.uk/news/c ... l-14816775

A Street pastor has urged Cheshire East to consider implementing a new scheme to make Nantwich’s night time economy safer.

David Maidment, who coordinates the Nantwich Street Pastors, has suggested that introducing a “taxi marshal” scheme around Nantwich’s Swine Market at weekends would help the council and the police by keeping the streets safer and tidier, particularly while revellers are waiting for taxis.

Mr Maidment said that particularly when the pubs and clubs in Nantwich close and revellers head to Swine Market to visit the takeaways or get a taxi, the situation can get chaotic as everyone tries to get home, and he suggested that a “taxi marshal” to help keep order would be beneficial for both the police and the council, as it would deter anti social behaviour and littering.

However he acknowledged that while licensees in Nantwich have spoken in favour of the idea, the strains on public finances might make it difficult to implement.

Mr Maidment said: “Sometimes, at 3am, the youngsters go to the fast food outlets and often have the situation of a long wait, with 50 or 60 people waiting for taxis. It can get a bit fraught.”

He also added that taxi marshals may make some people enjoying the town’s night-time economy feel safer, adding: “It could be beneficial for everyone involved.”

A Cheshire East Council spokesman said: “Cheshire East currently has no plans to introduce ‘taxi marshals’ in our town centres. The council would urge any member of the public who witnesses a crime, or who suspects criminal activity or behaviour, to contact the police.”

21/06/18

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"Coventry is being left behind" - Councillor calls for Uber to come to the city

https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/ ... r-14815904

Tensions have been rising between Coventry's taxi drivers and Uber drivers

A leading councillor has claimed Coventry is being "left behind" - by failing to welcome Uber to the city.

Cllr Tim Mayer's call for Uber to be allowed to operate in the city comes after an altercation between Coventry's black cab drivers and Uber drivers at Coventry Railway Station earlier this month saw a man arrested on suspicion of assault.

The incident allegedly saw a black cab driver stuck by an Uber vehicle but the man was later released.

Cllr Jayne Innes, cabinet member for city services, has previously criticised Uber for taking rides in the city without a license.

It also comes after Coventry City Council publicly opposed a partnership between Uber and Virgin Trains , which would have given train travellers an SMS link to book an Uber following their arrival at their destination station.

What has Cllr Mayer said?

In a statement, Cllr Mayer said: "It is a real shame Coventry is being left behind, we have recently been told how bad our air pollution is and the city has now been stopped from using a scheme that is aimed at encouraging more people to leave their cars at home, with a seamless door-to-door experience just from a touch of a button.

"I am concerned that as a Councillor, and member of the licensing committee I shouldn’t be against choice and enterprise. I am absolutely for backing Coventry workers but wonder whether our Labour cabinet member on the other hand is against the future so called sharing economy and technological advancements this brings.

"I was really shocked to see Cllr Jayne Innes, the Cabinet Member for City Services say 'Our drivers know the road, and can have proper conversations with customers'. What does she mean? Uber drivers are from our city and believe it or believe it not are as human as the rest of us so are more then capable of having proper conversations.

"The only people to blame for these tensions are us and our slow response to this new form of consumer choice, not neighbouring cities."

Investment needed

Cllr Mayer continued: "Labour’s removal of partnerships like the recent Virgin and Uber one would put all of that at risk for the city of Coventry, damaging the quality of life and security of ordinary working people.

"As a member of the licensing committee I do share the cabinet member's concerns when it comes to Uber’s business model and possible impact over passenger safety but think this is a red herring given her recent backings of the so called Corbyn cab which ran across Coventry and the wider Midlands with no tax or MOT.

"The fact is Technological innovations are transforming how we live and work, Coventry’s strategy must be to show how we will work with businesses to create better, higher-paying jobs rather then trying to stop the advancements made by entrepreneurs.

"What I want to see from the cabinet member is a plan to invest in our tech sector rather then stopping advancing technology despite pledging to put Coventry at the forefront of innovation.

"I want Coventry to be the biggest home for exciting new companies outside of London providing a better and more affordable service for Coventry residents."

CoventryLive asked Cllr Mayer if he would like to see Uber come to Coventry, to which he replied: "I think legalisation needs to be improved and we should be working on ensuring that happens.

"Enabling Uber and others to work in this city ensuring freedom of choice to our residents.

"I use Uber all the time in London, yet all the time in Coventry use taxi ranks and have had no communication issues or safety worries with any."

Why hasn't Uber been licensed in Coventry?

Coventry City Council previously told CoventryLive that Uber has never applied for a license in the city.

However, it has been made clear that the Council is somewhat opposed to the private hire firm, for the effect that their presence would have on the city's black cab industry.

Their frustration at Uber is compounded by the fact that despite having no license to operate in Coventry, many do so regardless.

And not only does this frustrate the council, but it has agitated Coventry's cab drivers, too.

In recent weeks, tensions between cab drivers and Uber drivers has risen, leading to a number of confrontations between drivers. On more than one occasion, these confrontations have lead to police involvement.

Cllr Jayne Innes, the Cabinet Member for City Services, has long been championing Coventry's black cab industry. She said: "Our city has a strong black cab fleet. We want people to feel safe, so we have drivers trained in how to spot things such as child exploitation.

"Our drivers know the road, and can have proper conversations with customers.

"What they are doing is really unfair, and it isn't a level playing field.

"We are doing all we can to calm things down, but it would help if other councils thought, and behaved more responsibly.

"They are ultimately responsible for altercations such as these."

With Coventry City Council investing heavily in electric taxi's and neighbouring council's continuing to licence Uber drivers, the current situation looks set to continue.

21/06/18

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A-Z axed from Birmingham private hire test

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-b ... m-44559598

The A-Z test has been axed from Birmingham private hire applications, prompting fears it could lower the standard of taxi drivers.

The council has removed the part of the exam where people use the map book to plot a route, stating most are failing because they rely on satnavs.

Concerns have also been raised that the changes could lead to more operators who cannot speak English fluently.

The authority has maintained that standards will be upheld.

The decision was made at a meeting of the city's licensing and public protection committee on Wednesday.

Changes to the knowledge exam, which include the ability to test multiple people at once and change all questions to multiple choice, were also approved, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said.

The meeting also heard that officials fear drivers failing the tests are obtaining licences from elsewhere only to operate in Birmingham.

It follows reports that private hire drivers have been licensed in Wolverhampton where the process is cheaper, quicker and less demanding.

Committee chairman Barbara Dring referred to reports that stated more than 100 taxi drivers had been licensed by the council despite having criminal records.

She said: "I hope if we



go down this road it's not going to be a lowering of the standard."

TOA Taxis chairman Manawar Hussain said: "If an applicant can't read an A to Z or can't communicate with a passenger or can't read an address how is he going to transport that passenger to the location?"

Acting director of regulation and enforcement Chris Neville said: "I don't believe this will result in drivers being licensed who can't speak English."

He added: "We wouldn't put this forward if we thought it would be detrimental to standards."

21/06/18

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Taxi driver convicted after overcharging wheelchair using passenger

http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/161 ... passenger/

A TAXI driver who twice overcharged a passenger who used a wheelchair has been convicted of an offence under the Equality Act.

A taxi capable of carrying the wheelchair had been booked to take Peter Kelly, with his wife Tracy and her daughter Kerry Battersby, from their home in Westhoughton to a restaurant in Blackrod for Mrs Kelly's 50th birthday celebration.

But Bolton Magistrates' Court heard that driver Pervez Sajid, who had been sub-contracted by Timewise, charged them £17.50 for the five-and-a-half-mile journey.

Peter Horgan, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Kelly, who is disabled, and his family thought the ride, on May 19 last year, was expensive but became concerned when they learned that Mrs Kelly's son, Cllr Ryan Battersby, had made a similar journey to the restaurant in a different cab and only been charged just over £9.

After the meal 58-year-old Sajid arrived to take the Kellys back to their home in Greenfold Lane and, again, charged them £17.50.

Cllr Battersby decided to complain to Bolton Council about the charging and, on May 31, Sajid was questioned by a licensing enforcement officer.

Sajid, of Gilnow Road, Heaton, told the investigator that he had a double-sided card listing the charges for journeys. One side was the rate for carrying up to four passengers and on the other was the charges for a minibus used for four to eight passengers.

He claimed he had looked at the wrong side of the card when asking for payment from the Kellys and told the enforcement officer he would apologise and refund the overpayment.

Mr Horgan told the court that, in total, the Kellys were overcharged by £13.35.

"It is a small amount but it is, of course, the principle to ensure there is no discrimination towards anyone who is wheelchair-bound," said Mr Horgan.

Sajid pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a duty to carry people using wheelchairs without making an additional charge, an offence under Section 165 of the Equality Act 2010, which came into force in April last year.

In a prepared statement read out in court Sajid told magistrates that this was the only complaint about him in the 31 years he has been a taxi driver.

"This has upset my reputation which I am very proud of," he said.

"I am sorry for the mistake and reading the wrong side of the fare card.

"I had no intention of overcharging passengers because one person had access needs."

Magistrates sentenced him to a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered him to pay £200 towards prosecution costs, plus £13.35 in compensation.

Chairman of the bench David Hendry told him: "You have to understand that taxi drivers are under a duty of care to all their passengers and that, of course, includes disabled passengers."

However, he added: "It is important to recognise that you, Mr Sajid, have been a taxi driver in Bolton for 31 years without a blemish and you offered to apologise and reimburse the monies."

Mr Kelly has been wheelchair-bound for four years after having a leg amputated.

His wife welcomed the outcome of the court case and said she hopes it deters other drivers from overcharging and encourages more wheelchair users to complain if they are being treated unfairly.

"It is more the principle," she said.

"Why should we be charged double for the same journey?"

It is the first time Bolton Council has brought such a prosecution and executive cabinet member for environmental services, Cllr Nick Peel said: "We wrote out to every private hire and taxi driver last year to forewarn them about the new regulations contained in the Equality Act, and that we would not hesitate to enforce its provisions.

"We have now demonstrated our resolve, supported by the magistrates' court, and I hope that this sends a clear signal, to that minority of drivers who may be tempted to flout the law, that will we not hesitate to protect the rights of disabled passengers.”

19/06/2018

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Taxi driver loses permit after gaping holes appeared in taxi floor

http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/1629 ... axi_floor/

A TAXI company director has had his permit suspended for two years after gaping holes appeared in a cab floor.

Graham Sharp, representing Love Family Taxi Company, was told that he’d not be able to work on Glasgow’s roads after his vehicle failed two inspections.

He was called by licensing chiefs to explain why his 14-year-old taxi had gaping holes in its floor and wheel arch.

It was found that a cowboy mechanic had carried out sub-standard repairs when council inspectors were able to knock through the floor with light instruments.

When asked if he had considered buying a new cab, Mr Sharp said: “I’m looking to have my car refurbished in the next year.

“The fellow that does work for me assured me that the work was done.”

Mr Sharp said he took his car for a pre-inspection. He claimed that when he took it to the council there were no holes in the car.

But when he got it back the holes had appeared.

Officers confirmed there were no holes on the vehicle when it was received for inspection.

But the council mechanics found that repairs to the corroded wheel arch and floor within the car, carried out previously, were “sub-standard”.

It was found that fibreglass had been used to patch up holes in the vehicle, instead of welding the floor and arch into place.

Appealing for the Licensing Committee to be lenient in any suspension, Mr Sharp said: “I really need my job and it’s my livelihood at stake here.”

Committee chairman Alex Wilson said: “I’m looking at pictures of the vehicle and there is significant corrosion and damage within the vehicle.

“It has failed two inspections. You are constantly having to go back and do work on it.

“It’s worrying that all this has only been picked up after inspection. It doesn’t look satisfactory.”

John Kane added: “It’s your responsibility that your car is maintained to a standard that makes it safe to transport people.”

Mr Sharp’s licence was suspended until November 2020, when he will have to apply for another permit.

19/06/2018

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Use it or lose it: Dozens of Glasgow taxi drivers licenses suspended for NOT living here

http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/1629 ... ving_here/

Dozens of Glasgow cab drivers had their permits suspended this week.

Licensing bosses swung the axe on a list of cabbies whose registered addresses are outside of the city.

For 19 of the drivers, their time on the road was effectively ended as the suspensions go up to their licence expiry dates.

Manchester, London, Rotherham and Bolton were all listed as addresses, with many of the cabbies having never used their permit.

Ibniamin Khan, was the only one who was given a two-week penalty after he failed to use his private hire car for seven months when he was living in Yorkshire and Germany.

Alex Wilson, chair of the licensing committee told him: “We gave you a licence in 2017 and you’ve not used it.

“If you had read the terms and conditions of the licence you would know that you should have surrendered your licence.

“You are supposed to do that if you’ve not used it within any three-month period.

“You should never have applied for a licence if you had no intention of using it.”

But Mr Khan said: “I haven’t used my licence because I was looking for a car.

“My brother was then involved in a crash and I moved over to Germany to be with him for several months.

“I have now got a car and have moved to Glasgow. I moved here because I want to work here.”

All of those whose licences were suspended were called to appear in front of the committee.

The drivers who had their permits suspended until the end of their licence expiry will have to wait to apply for a new licence if they want to operate in Glasgow.

19/06/2018

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Mohammad Ayub from Crown & Greenline Private Hire, lives at Carr Road Nelson.

He hit and injured an elderly woman in Colne in January without stopping and was not granted his appeal to get his taxi licence back.

The Chairman of the Bench said:

"Mohammad Ayub had shown a shocking lack of care in his driving."

Pendle Council's Head of Legal Services played video footage of the incident at the appeal hearing which showed the collision with the pedestrian.

This was taken into account along with the nine penalty points he'd clocked up for three speeding convictions and two other complaints Pendle Council had received against him.

Ayub was described by the Chairman of the Bench as "not a fit and proper person" and awarded Pendle Council £250 in court costs.

Also in court was Riaz Ahmed of Union Cabs, Colne, who was appealing against Pendle Council cancelling his taxi operator's licence.

The court heard that Ahmed, of Park Avenue Barrowford, had been allowing unlicensed drivers to drive his taxis.

Riaz Ahmed had not kept proper records of bookings, his cars were poorly maintained and Pendle Council had received complaints from the public about his taxi company.

The chairman of the magistrates noted that there had been 16 months of complaints and warnings in respect of record keeping, unlicensed drivers and mechanical faults and that the breaches were continuing.

The court awarded Pendle Council £500 in court costs from Riaz Ahmed, for his failed appeal.

Mr Ahmed has now begun an appeal to the Crown Court against the Magistrates' Court's decision.

Councillor Paul White, Leader of Pendle Council said: "The court said that he was trusted with public safety and there had been no improvement in his business.

"These two unsuccessful appeals against our decisions show that we are right to take a tough line in tackling problems with taxi drivers and operators.

"Taxi safety in Pendle is very important to us," he added.

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Taxi driver cleared of sexually assaulting schoolgirl wins hackney licence appeal


Nasir Ahmed, from Haslingden, had his licence revoked by Rossendale Council

A Valley taxi driver who was cleared by a jury of sexually assaulting a schoolgirl has won a court appeal to reinstate his hackney licence.

Rossendale Council revoked Nasir Ahmed’s licence in January last year after he was accused.

Mr Ahmed, of Blackburn Road, Haslingden, was found not guilty by a jury at Preston Crown Court last month.

However, despite the acquittal, council bosses said the 54-year-old should not receive his hackney carriage licence back because he was not a ‘fit and proper person’.

Jack Troup, representing the council during an appeal against the loss of his licence at Burnley Crown Court, said the complainant had made a ‘credible statement’ and there was a ‘lower burden

of proof’ for civil cases.

He told the court: “The purpose of the licensing regime is the protection of the public.

"The council needs to ensure that a person is mentally, physically and morally fit to hold a hackney carriage licence.

“He will be driving with the most vulnerable people, children, and those who are intoxicated.

“On the basis of the hearsay evidence [the teenager’s statement to police] he isn’t a fit and proper person to the civil standard.”

Salina Akhtar, representing Mr Ahmed, said he had worked for Attock Taxis in Haslingden for the last three years and previously had contracts with Lancashire County Council helping children with special needs travel to and from school.

The hearing was told that Mr Ahmed had received no complaints from children, parents, schools or the council regarding his performance.

Mr Ahmed told the court that he was an ‘honest man’, had no previous convictions or cautions and since his acquittal has completed several online child protection courses with the council.

Mohammed Ijaz, who runs Attock Taxis, said he had known Mr Ahmed for 20 years and had received ‘no complaints about his behaviour’.

The court was told that Mr Ahmed would still work for the firm and use a taxi fitted with CCTV cameras.

Recorder Neville Biddle said Mr Ahmed had ‘overwhelming grounds’ to have his licence reinstated and that the council had ‘failed to establish he is not a fit and proper person’.

He said: “We allow the appeal and we restore his licence forthwith.”


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times investigation

Taxi scandal: criminal culture in the Birmingham cab trade

Dominic Kennedy, Investigations Editor

May 24 2018, 12:01am, The Times

Law

Taxis queue at a rank in Birmingham, where drivers were reinstated after convictions

ALAMY

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A criminal subculture has taken root in the taxi trade of Birmingham, where licences are being doled out to habitual offenders.

Even when cabbies commit fresh crimes, they can hope to escape with a ticking off or brief suspension.

A trawl through a database of criminal convictions suggests the council sees nothing unusual about giving licences to taxi drivers with a repeated propensity for violence. A tolerance for serious motoring offences such as driving without insurance, drink-driving and driving while using a mobile phone is also surprisingly common.

The offenders form a minority of 114 among Birmingham’s 4,943 private hire and 1,297 hackney cab drivers, but passengers face a lottery each time they entrust their safety to someone unfamiliar.

One approved driver was caught in 2008 possessing heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply. In 2009 he was placed under a curfew for being caught with cannabis and in 2016 was found in possession of cocaine. Another with years of convictions for assault, failing to stop after an accident and driving without insurance, added drink-driving bans in 2006 and 2009.

The council gave a chance to a driver who applied for a licence in 2006, in spite of a prodigious juvenile crime record encompassing robbery, possessing an offensive weapon, perverting justice and wounding. He had been given a three-year sentence in a young offender institution and his most recent offence at the time he became a cabbie had been a caution in 2002 for having a blade in public.

Some would argue it was right to give him another opportunity. However in 2016 he received a suspended prison sentence for possessing a weapon for discharge of a noxious substance: pepper spray. Birmingham council responded to his recidivism by sending him “a strongly worded warning letter”.

Dame Louise Casey, the former government integration tsar, intervened over Birmingham council’s taxi policy last year.

Luke Holland raised concerns about drivers procuring sex while on the job

Luke Holland raised concerns about drivers procuring sex while on the job

ANDREW FOX/THE TIMES

She had been alerted by Luke Holland, 21, a campaigner against child sexual exploitation, that some drivers were apparently involved in attempting to procure sex as they cruised the streets. Mr Holland had become frustrated by what he saw as a lack of decisive action by the council. Dame Louise was aware of the subcultures that exist in the taxi trade through her work in Rotherham after a sex-grooming scandal.

An independent inquiry by Alexis Jay noted frequent warnings that taxi operators and their drivers had played a prominent role in the abuse. When Dame Louise was sent by the government to inspect Rotherham council, reforms were introduced which resulted in 50 taxi drivers being stripped of their licences.

Among them was the council’s former deputy leader Jahangir Akhtar, who had featured in a trial at which three of his relatives were convicted of multiple offences against girls. Mr Akhtar has always denied any involvement in child sexual exploitation.

Dame Louise’s report stated that some council staff felt intimidated by Mr Akhtar, who “made representations on behalf of drivers to speed up the issue of licences”.

In Birmingham there has also been a tradition of councillors helping applicants to obtain taxi licences. The practice has been subject to a rethink by the city after the Casey report but many candidates had already been approved. Khalid Mahmood, the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, said that councillors had sometimes been innocently duped into providing character references for unsuitable individuals. His concern was whether members might have been knowingly aiding criminals to get taxi licences.

“Sometimes people may have been naive,” Mr Mahmood told The Times. “I understand that. If people have been doing it deliberately, there is a real issue for the council to look into this and see where it has been happening.”

Candidates for taxi licences go before a cross-party licensing sub-committee at the Labour-controlled council.

Gareth Moore, a Conservative councillor who has served as his party’s licensing spokesman, said: “Anything like a sexual offence, violence or drugs would normally be refused but we have to judge each case on its merits. If you have a 40-year-old taxi driver who had a run-in with someone when he was 18 you will have more leniency than someone who stabbed someone last week. There probably would have been a few before me with burglary or theft-related convictions but by and large . . . old or historic.”

Mr Holland contacted the council to bring evidence that taxi drivers were soliciting for gay sex by kerb crawling.

The council responded in April last year that it took such matters seriously and had revoked a licence where a driver had been arrested for a potential offence of child sexual exploitation.

At about the same time, it announced that it intended to make CCTV compulsory in all taxis by October this year. It scrapped the idea because of a lack of support from drivers, saying also that, owing to the Deregulation Act, which allows drivers to get licences from other councils, some might go to neighbouring authorities for their licence and return to work in Birmingham.

Some of the offenders

• Hackney cab driver who had a licence since 2006 was allowed to keep it in 2016 despite being convicted of assault by beating. Driver was fined £500 and the council suspended the taxi licence for two months.

• No action was taken by the licensing authority against a Hackney cab driver convicted of a dangerous dog offence in which someone was injured. The driver was ordered by a court to pay more than £2,700 compensation, given a 12-month community order, and the dog was threatened with being put down.

• Private hire driver who held licence since 2010 was allowed to keep it despite a racially aggravated public order offence, which was punished with a community order and 120 hours of unpaid work. As a rebuke, the council sent the driver a letter.

• Driver who held a private hire licence since 2012 was sent a letter by the council after being convicted in 2015 of importing a prohibited weapon.

• Warning letters were sent to a private hire driver cautioned for two thefts by finding and one convicted of assault by beating and fined £500.

• A private hire driver had his licence suspended for six months after being convicted of depositing controlled waste without a permit, for which a court fined him £900 and destroyed his vehicle.

• A driver convicted of harassment putting another person in fear of violence and sentenced to a community order had their licence suspended for six weeks.

• A private hire licence was granted to a person who in 2010 was driving while drunk, for which they were disqualified from driving for a year, and driving without insurance. That person was also convicted in 2011 of burglary of a home and given a 12-month suspended sentence.

• A person convicted in 2008 of possessing heroin, crack and cannabis with intent to supply, and again in 2016 of possessing cocaine, was granted a private hire licence.

• A private hire licence was granted to a person cautioned for soliciting or importuning for immoral purpose in 2010.

• A person sent to a young offenders institute for five years in 2009 for conspiracy to handle stolen goods and wounding/inflicting grievous bodily harm was granted a private hire licence.

• Private hire licence given to person jailed for 21 months for a fraud offence.

• A person given a suspended sentence in 2011 for burglary and theft was given a private hire licence.

• A person convicted in 2002 of possessing cannabis, and of affray in 2010 then cautioned for battery two years later was granted a private hire licence.

• A private hire licence was given to a person cautioned in 2013 for ill treatment of a child or young person.

• A Hackney carriage licence was granted to a person convicted of theft in 2008.

Law

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why am I not surprised


Times Investigation

Taxi scandal: borough with a taxi driver for every 19 residents

Men from across the north sought licences from a town hall that was seen as a soft touch

Andrew Norfolk

May 23 2018, 12:01am, The Times

• Transport

A rank of taxis in Rawtenstall, Rossendale’s biggest townJoel Goodman for The Times

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Its sandstone villages and mill towns made the Lancashire borough of Rossendale an unlikely candidate for taxi capital of England.

The Labour-run authority is home to 69,800 people. The biggest town, Rawtenstall, has no police station and its shopping centre was demolished in 2013. It has a monthly Clog Market.

In 2007 Rossendale licensed 150 taxi drivers. Last year it licensed 3,756 — far more than any other English council. Next on the list were Manchester (2,329), Liverpool (2,224) and Birmingham (1,338).

The borough has 75 taxi spaces on its ranks but many are often vacant as drivers are elsewhereJOEL GOODMAN for THE TIMES

In England and Wales last year one person in 1,000 was a taxi driver. In London, there was one black cab driver for every 357 residents. Dizzingly, Rossendale theoretically has a taxi driver for every 19 residents.

Competition at its 75 taxi rank spaces would be fierce but for the fact that the vast majority of the drivers licensed by Rossendale did not live there. They had no intention of working in a borough whose tourism spokesman said last year that he aimed to revitalise the moribund nightlife with a model based on the nearby world black pudding throwing championships.

Hailing instead from across northern England and the Midlands, they set their sights on a Rossendale taxi licence because the council was perceived to be a soft touch. The licensing authorities in northern cities imposed stricter tests and requirements before granting a licence. Some charged higher fees. Others tested geographical knowledge, English skills, insisted on safeguarding training or applied a stricter interpretation of the “fit and proper” person test.

Word spread that getting a Rossendale hackney carriage licence was easier. Any driver with one could take pre-booked “private hire vehicle”, or minicab, work anywhere. The surge in numbers was spectacular. While England and Wales overall had a 15 per cent decline in the total of licensed taxi drivers in 2007-17, the number in Rossendale soared by 2,404 per cent.

And so did the money earned by the council. In 2011, when it licensed 248 drivers and 159 taxis, Rossendale’s fee income was £92,000. Six years later, after licensing 3,756 drivers and 1,890 taxis, it was £783,000.

Councils hit by an influx of Rossendale-plated drivers had no power to stop and check the “cross-border” taxis and knew nothing about the drivers. The authorities seeking to impose high safety standards found their hands tied.

Particular concerns were felt in Rotherham and Rochdale, where minicab drivers were prominent among men for whom the sexual abuse of young girls was routine. After inquiries in 2014 and 2015 condemned flaws in Rotherham’s taxi-licensing operation, the council imposed a tough regime and dozens of drivers lost their licences.

Measures to improve passenger safety included video cameras in all vehicles, but Rotherham can only enforce such a rule on the taxis it licenses. Vehicles licensed elsewhere are exempt and drivers whose licences were revoked, or whose applications were rejected by Rotherham for reasons including safeguarding concerns, have been able to obtain them from other councils.

Alan Pogorzelec, Rotherham’s chief licensing officer, described cross-border licensing as “the single biggest threat” to maintaining high standards “and to the safety of anyone who uses a [minicab] in this country”.

In Rochdale, so great was the concern at the “numerous” Rossendale taxi drivers that a 2015 council report warned of a serious threat to its efforts to reduce sexual exploitation of children. Measures taken locally were being jeopardised “by a policy adopted by a neighbouring authority which allows drivers over whom this authority has no control to operate [here]”.

“Drivers licensed by Rossendale have not completed the area knowledge test this authority requires. Residents have reported that the language skills of Rossendale drivers are often poor, making communication difficult.”

Similar concerns about “cross-border” licensing were voiced in 2016 by the authorities in Derby and Sheffield.

They would have been more alarmed had they known that in the summer of 2016 a hole in Rossendale’s licensing system was identified by a whistleblower and hushed up by the council. By then Rossendale was cutting the number of licences issued to people living outside the borough. On the surface all seemed well but a new member of staff was given the curious task of checking recent licence renewals to see whether the drivers had an up-to-date DBS (disclosure and barring service) certificate when the renewal was approved.

From subsequent internal discussions, it appears that doubts were raised about checks carried out by Rossendale when taxi licences, which ran for a period of three years, were due for renewal. These were put to the licensing and enforcement manager, Tracy Brzozowski, who is said to have assured senior management that all was well.

What the junior member of staff discovered in May 2016 would lead to Mrs Brzozowski’s suspension. Weeks later she quietly resigned as a director of the Institute of Licensing and left the council soon afterwards. Mrs Brzozowski said yesterday that during her time at Rossendale all licences were issued in line with the relevant policy and she was “not aware of any irregularities”.

The junior employee found that the council seemed to have no record of new DBS certificates for the vast majority of the 149 drivers whose renewals had most recently been granted. She was told to ask the drivers to produce the document but by the end of that process 86 were still missing.

Without an up-to-date certificate, the council could not know if a driver had received any relevant conviction or caution in the preceding three years, nor whether police had any “soft” intelligence about the driver. Frustrated that her bosses in the licensing section appeared not to grasp the gravity of the situation, the employee turned internal whistleblower. Rossendale would later admit, in employment tribunal documents seen by The Times, that it eventually checked 5,289 taxi licences and found “discrepancies” with 551 of them. The council said yesterday that when it reviewed the 149 cases highlighted by the whistleblower it established that “all DBS checks were in place”. It did not explain why, if that was so, Mrs Brzozowski emailed colleagues on May 11, 2016, shortly before her suspension, announcing a “change of procedure with immediate effect”. She told them that “following a review, renewal applications will no longer be accepted for processing where there is no enhanced DBS certificate”. Such applications “should be rejected without delay”.

Copied in to the email were the chief executive, Stuart Sugarman, and legal services manager, Clare Birtwistle, who later led the inquiry into the whistleblower’s claims and appears to have given the council a clean bill of health.

The whistleblower had also informed senior managers that in some cases licensing staff were instructed to accept photographs and photocopies of certificates in place of the real document. She also revealed that in dealing with applications from foreigners, for whom it was not possible to carry out DBS checks, staff were told to accept a “certificate of good conduct” issued by the relevant embassy but had no training to assess if such documents were genuine.

Far from convinced that her concerns were being adequately addressed, the whistleblower resigned and initiated employment tribunal proceedings. An out-of-court settlement was agreed last year and the council inserted a clause under which she had to destroy confidential papers and pledged not to reveal any “disparaging” information.

This year Rossendale announced that the number of taxis licensed by the council had fallen from 2,600 in 2016 to 1,165. It has siginificantly improved its systems for checking criminal records.

The council said yesterday that its priority had always been the safety of passengers and drivers. “Our policies have always been based on national guidelines. The issues raised here have previously been investigated and were unfounded. We are confident that we have not issued licences to anyone who should not have received one and that all DBS checks were in place.”

Meanwhile, the cross-border taxi circus continues. In the West Midlands there is another council of choice for aspiring drivers in need of a quick and easy licence — Wolverhampton.


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Uber driver gets criminal record after being caught illegally picking up fare in taxi sting

A private hire Uber driver was caught out illegally picking up a fare in a sting set up by two rival taxi drivers, a court heard. One driver posed as a customer in the historic city of York to flag down the Leeds-based Uber cab - even though private hire cars can only take pre-booked fares. A second driver filmed the incident on his dashcam before providing evidence to City of York Council.

Now the Uber driver, Rehan Farooq, has a criminal record and may face losing his private hire licence as a result of what happened on August 20 in the North Yorkshire city, the court heard.Farooq, who was prosecuted by the City of York, told the magistrates: "The guy approached me, I thought I would take him - it was a stupid mistake. I am very sorry."

The Leeds driver pleaded guilty to operating as a taxi driver without a hackney carriage licence and driving without taxi driver's insurance. He now has a criminal record and may face losing his private hire licence as a result of the sting operation on August 20 last year. The defendant's vehicle was registered to Farooq was officially licensed to operate as a private hire driver by Leeds City Council.

But the West Yorkshire authority say they are yet to decide if it will take action regarding Farooq's licence, the court heard. He was also fined £200 plus a £30 statutory surcharge plus £608.34 prosecution costs and six penalty points were put on his licence.

Uber spokesperson said: "All private hire trips in the UK must be pre-booked. “Uber has a zero tolerance policy and any driver found picking up unbooked trips or street hails will permanently lose access to the app and risks losing their private hire licence.

“It's important that people only use a properly booked car and with Uber you will always see the driver’s name, photo and registration number so you can be sure it's the right one."

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Taxi drivers start legal action over council’s clampdown on emissions

Taxi drivers in the district have launched legal action against Wakefield Council following the authority’s decision to hike up licensing fees and introduce tough emission rules. The cost for drivers’ licensing badge has risen by 60 per cent to £384, while any cab manufactured before September 2016 will not be licensed because it would exceed pollution levels set by the council.

This means almost 90 per cent of taxis would be taken off the road, with many drivers saying they cannot afford newer models. Wakefield District Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Association, which represents drivers, criticised the move, saying the council should introduce lower emission levels gradually or risk losing hundreds of drivers. Planned industrial action, which included go-slows through the city to prevent traffic from running freely, have since been postponed, but legal action has started.

Waj Ali, co-chairman of the association (pictured centre) said: “We have issued initial proceedings against the council. It’s cost us a lot of money, more than £10,000 so far and could cost us £60,000. “It’s very, very serious but we are not prepared to back down on this. We’re not going to be pushed around by bully boy tactics.” The council has until March 12 to respond to the legal proceedings.

Bernadette Livesey, Wakefield Council’s city Solicitor, said: “The taxi association has written a letter before action and the council is currently considering its position. The council is pleased that planned action has been postponed.”

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Furious customers hit out at taxi drivers for raising fares in hazardous weather

A TAXI boss has defended his decision to ramp up fares in heavy snow and freezing temperatures, claiming his drivers are "risking their lives" on the roads. Mazi Maroof of Tees Valley Cabs said the extra cash acts as an incentive for drivers to come out to work. But one customer, whose usual £12 taxi fare to work went up to £13, branded the idea "ridiculous".

The woman, who asked not to be named, told Gazette Live: "Sometimes my partner gets a taxi to work when his lift doesn't turn up. "It is always £12, but when I ordered one this morning she said it would be a pound extra today because of the weather."I don't think it's right at all. What if somebody only had that £12 to get to work and they couldn't get to work because they didn't have that extra pound? "I think it's terrible. “The bus fares don't go up just because it snows."

But the taxi firm, based in Stockton, Teesside, said journeys are taking up to five times longer than usual. Mr Maroof said: "The conditions are horrendous and drivers don't want to come out. "We calculate journeys by distance and time. A five-minute journey is taking 20 minutes. "Drivers need to make money to pay rent. "They are taking five times the time for the same journey."

He continued: "We do tell people beforehand and we ask them if they would still like to book. "The drivers are risking their lives so initially they don't want to go out." Mr Maroof said the increased fares were in place "only when the weather was extreme" and will return to normal when the roads improve.

Another frustrated customer took to social media to complain about the fare hike. Jacqueline Pratt said: "My husband and I had been at the Diamond restaurant and were trying to get a taxi home. All the companies were quite busy but we finally managed to get one and the meter was already double what it usually is. "The driver said it was double time because of the adverse conditions but my husband was a taxi driver years ago and never heard of that.”

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Uber and Lyft drivers' median hourly wage is just $3.37, report finds

Uber and Lyft drivers in the US make a median profit of $3.37 per hour before taxes, according to a new report that suggests a majority of ride-share workers make below minimum wage and that many actually lose money.

Researchers did an analysis of vehicle cost data and a survey of more than 1,100 drivers for the ride-hailing companies for the paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research. The report – which factored in insurance, maintenance, repairs, fuel and other costs – found that 30% of drivers are losing money on the job and that 74% earn less than the minimum wage in their states.

The findings have raised fresh concerns about labor standards in the booming sharing economy as companies such as Uber and Lyft continue to face scrutiny over their treatment of drivers, who are classified as independent contractors and have few rights or protections.

“This business model is not currently sustainable,” said Stephen Zoepf, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University and co-author of the paper. “The companies are losing money. The businesses are being subsidized by [venture capital] money … And the drivers are essentially subsidizing it by working for very low wages.”

Drivers earn a median of 59 cents per mile while incurring a median cost of 30 cents per mile, the report said, adding that for nearly a third of drivers, the costs are ultimately higher than the revenue. The paper reported the average driver profit to be $661 per month.

While most drivers employ vehicles for personal use and ride-hailing services, the bulk of the miles they drive are for work, which can lead to significant short-term and long-term costs, the paper said.

Given inevitable costs of maintenance, repair and depreciation, “effectively what you’re doing as a driver is borrowing against the value of your car,” Zoepf said, adding: “It’s quite possible that drivers don’t realize quite how much they are spending.”

Other studies and surveys have found higher hourly earnings for Uber drivers, in part because there are numerous ways to report income and to calculate costs and time and miles spent on the job.

Harry Campbell, founder of the Rideshare Guy, a website that has conducted surveys of drivers, said the finding of a $3.37 median hourly profit seemed a bit low, but noted that new drivers were often surprised by the wages.

“The most common feedback we hear from drivers is they end up earning a lot less than they expected,” said Campbell, who partnered with Zoepf on the surveys used in the paper. “There is a lot of turnover in the industry, and that’s the number one reason I hear from drivers why they are quitting – they are not making enough.”

Campbell pointed out that Uber itself had struggled to properly consider vehicle costs. Last year, the company shut down its US auto-leasing business after discovering it was losing 18 times more money per vehicle than it had previously understood. Some drivers claimed that the leasing program trapped them in debt.

An Uber spokesperson broadly criticized the research in a statement: “While the paper is certainly attention grabbing, its methodology and findings are deeply flawed. We’ve reached out to the paper’s authors to share our concerns and suggest ways we might work together to refine their approach.”

A Lyft spokesperson said in an email, “We have not yet reviewed this study in detail, but an initial review shows some questionable assumptions.”

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Council blames 'oversight' for employee receiving parking ticket in Bath taxi rank


Bath and North East Somerset Council has blamed an “oversight” for one of its trucks receiving a parking ticket after being left in a taxi rank for three hours. A council employee was left with a very costly lunch on Tuesday (February 27) after parking in the temporary taxi rank on Grand Parade.

Taxi drivers were left furious as the truck took up three spots and one told the Chronicle that the van had been parked in the same spot for at least three hours. He said cabbies pleaded with the driver to move it, but he ignored them and sat in the vehicle eating his lunch even after receiving the parking ticket.

The council has now said that the employee, who was part of a team working in Parade Gardens, had made the error as the taxi rank has only just been moved to Grand Parade. “We always remind our drivers and crews to find appropriate parking spaces and not cause an obstruction,” said a spokesperson for Bath and North East Somerset Council.

“On Tuesday, a team was working in Parade Gardens grinding out stumps and chipping green waste on site which is why they had a trailer taking up space. “The staff were used to parking legally in this location which was a single line until recently and which may have caused this oversight. “We have spoken to the member of staff about it and they have returned the trailer to the yard to minimize obstruction. “The member of staff had his lunch break in the vehicle only and the parking charge notice will not be paid out of council funds and instead by the member of staff.”

The taxi rank has recently been moved from the normal spot outside Bath Abbey in Orange Grove to its temporary location on Grand Parade while work is being carried out at the Abbey. A taxi driver who contacted the Chronicle said the truck forced fellow cabbies to circle round or park around the corner as they were unable to get in the rank. “They have moved the rank because of construction work going on at the Abbey, but this van has parked at the front of the rank,” he said on Tuesday.

“He was given a ticket and the guy has been there for at least three hours even though taxi drivers have asked him to move as he is taking up three spaces. “It’s not just the van as it also has a trailer on the back, which makes it even worse. “It means several drivers are not able to get in the taxi rank and have to circle round or park around the corner.”



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Taxi drivers suspended for refusing to pick up mum and disabled daughter outside the Hippodrome

The mother of a disabled girl who was turned away by three Bristol taxi drivers has said she hopes taxi drivers will learn lessons after three were suspended. Karen Tilley and her daughter Josselin were left stranded after they came out of the Hippodrome after seeing a show last November.

Mother and daughter, who are from Wiltshire, went to the nearest taxi rank to catch a Bristol Blue Hackney Carriage back to Temple Meads station, but several drivers there refused to take them, because 11-year-old Josselin is in a wheelchair. She later posted on Facebook together with photographs of the taxis that turned her away, in a post which went viral around the city.

Bristol City Council investigated after the matter was reported to them, and now they have been suspended for various periods of time. A meeting of the council’s public safety and protection committee this week was held behind closed doors, decided the level of punishment to be handed to the taxi drivers, but ruled that they could not be named.

Two of the drivers had their licence suspended for four months, while the other received a six month suspension.

“I am pleased that the committee chose to apply some punishment to these drivers,” said Karen. “Not because I wanted to see them off the roads, but because I would like this to be a lesson to other taxi drivers that they need to make sure they aren’t putting disabled people in the position that my daughter and I were put in.

“Making sure you have made the right adjustments for people with wheelchairs really is a small obstacle compared to those that disabled people have to face on a daily basis. “I hope this helps to raise awareness amongst taxi drivers about the need to be accessible to people with a disability,” she added. The council said all three drivers will be required to undertake further training on disability assistance prior to getting their licence back.

This will be at a cost to themselves through the council’s Gold Standard taxi driver training programme, which all Bristol taxi drivers are required to complete.

The chair of the committee is Cllr Fi Hance. She said: “It is absolutely unacceptable that anyone should be turned away by a taxi service because they use a wheelchair, or indeed have any other disability. “We require all our Hackney Carriage taxi drivers to use wheelchair accessible vehicles and it is their responsibility to know how to use their equipment properly when it comes to assisting a disabled person, so there is no excuse for turning someone away.

“In Bristol we pride ourselves on being an inclusive and accessible city that is an exciting and vibrant place to live and visit as a tourist destination for everyone. “The majority of our taxi drivers provide an excellent service to the city, but on occasions like this where passengers are subjected to discrimination we will investigate and take action where necessary,” she added.

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Man called police control room after he punched Dundee taxi driver and threatened to kill police

https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/m ... ll-police/

A man who punched a taxi driver in a racially aggravated assault called the police to tell them — then threatened to kill any officers who were sent to arrest him.

Paul Fraser, 20, of Westcroft Place, said he did not have the money to pay his fare of £10.50.

When the driver Mohammed Nadeem told Fraser to leave his bank card while he got money from his mother, he became aggressive and punched Mr Nadeem.

Fraser admitted assaulting Mr Nadeem at Westcroft Place on October 28 by punching him on the head to his injury, an offence that was racially aggravated.

He further admitted making telephone calls to police control that were grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character and uttering racial remarks and threats of violence which were racially aggravated on the same date at the same place.

Fiscal depute Stewart Duncan told Dundee Sheriff Court that Fraser had called police control and said somebody had assaulted a “daftie” and used a racist term to describe Mr Nadeem.

He added he would “kill any **** that gets involved and said he would ******* kill the police and stab them if they came.

Police arrived and found him to be agitated and heavily intoxicated.

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael fined Fraser £300 and ordered him to pay Mr Nadeem £300 in compensation.

March 2018

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Nottingham to be first city outside London to get MyTaxi Uber-style app for hackney cabs (and they are changing colour, too)

A new app which lets people book Nottingham hackney cabs through an Uber-style app will be launched in less than two weeks. The city will be the first place in the country outside London to get the MyTaxi app.

And the cabs will also be changing colour - from green to black - to as part of a major overhaul.

The new app will allow you to book, pay for and log your journey on your smartphone when it is launched on March 1. There will also be changes to the taxis themselves, with the council wanting to make all 411 of the city’s hackney cabs low (LEV) or ultra-low (ULEV) emission in the next two years in a bid to tackle problems with air quality. Drivers will have to make sure their vehicles are of the right standard before then if they want to carry on driving in the city centre - replacing them with new models if necessary.

City council portfolio holder for community and customer services, Councillor Toby Neal, said: “The new app will really help to bring hackneys into the 21st century as it gives passengers a great deal of confidence about journey safety - as well as making it simple to book a cab.” The eco-friendly taxis are generally more expensive than existing cabs, with the fully-electric Nissan Dynamo costing £40,000.

Recognising the cost of buying an electric car - which are difficult to get hold of second-hand - the council will buy a 'small number' of ultra-low emission vehicles to rent to cabbies. Some will have charging points for mobile phones and laptops, and will be rented to drivers at a "competitive" price.

Although hackney cabs drivers today welcomed the app - similar to ones already used by private companies such as DG - some believed they need more support if they are going to have to make their own cars more environmentally friendly. Jay Singh, 62, said:

"If there are only a few cars at the council it will be like a lottery to get one. I do not think making us get new cars is a good idea, we have not got enough custom. I cannot afford to buy one and I can't get a loan for it. "It is a minimum wait of an hour in the rank and then you might just get a £5 journey. Some days I do not even make minimum wage." He thought the app was a good idea, but added: "It's too late, too many private companies are already using apps and have established themselves."

Jian Chalotra, 65, a taxi driver for the past 30 years, said: "They have not considered us. "Taxi drivers are struggling. I can't afford £40,000 to buy my own car. If they are buying them for you and renting it out, though, that might."

Mohammad Yosaf, 64, a driver for 30 years, thought that compared to the number of drivers, a few rentable cars would not be enough, adding: "Electric cars are not affordable, I could buy a house for the same price." The app has been developed by MyTaxi, Europe's leading taxi app provider, which operates in 70 cities.

Passenger Kati Oakley, 44, who was catching a taxi back to Wilford, said: "I think the app is a good idea, we use them a lot and we often use the DG version for it. It is quicker than calling and easy to use." Becca Ainley, 19, who lives in Leicester and works in a pub and had taken a taxi to the station, said: "An app is more convenient, I think it is a good idea. It would be good to have it in Leicester."

Any new cab will have to be black rather than the traditional green, meaning the fleet will gradually change colour over time.

In October last year the council also announced they would be spending more than £700,000 on 32 electric charging points in eight locations across the city to make electric taxis more attractive. It has been granted £500,000 by the Government to make the upgrades.

Cllr Neal added: “For too long, taxis have been the poor relation in Nottingham’s integrated transport network. “That’s all changing now, with better customer standards, smart new vehicles and a brand new app to make it safe and easy for modern passengers to use the city’s large fleet of hackney cabs. “This is a really exciting transformation of taxi services in our city.

“It means we will no longer have cabs churning out exhaust fumes while sitting in the rank, so it benefits everyone in the city, not just taxi passengers. “It ties in with our investment in the tram system and in one of the largest fleet of green buses in the UK to help improve the air quality in Nottingham."

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Wigan taxi licence application figures plummet

Applications to work as a private hire or black cab driver dropped by nearly 75 per cent last year, it can be revealed.

Wigan Council received just 256 licence applications last year, compared to the 1,007 submitted during 2016. But the dramatic fall has been attributed to rule changes surrounding the frequency of licence renewals.

Lisa Backstrom, licensing manager at the council, said: “As a result of the Deregulation Act, the duration of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver licences changed from being renewed every year to only every three years in late 2015. “We expect to see an increase in figures as the three-year licences are due to be reviewed. The figures for last year are predominantly new applications only.”

Eddie Earley, union rep for the borough’s hackney cab drivers, said he had concerns about licences only being renewed every three years. He was unhappy with the cost and he fears drivers may not declare any criminal offences for a longer period until their renewal date, possibly putting passengers at risk.

Mr Earley said: “I have never liked a three-year badge, I have never wanted it. “We were never consulted on it.” He also disputed the figures provided to the Observer, saying he believed there was an increasing number of people taking tests to become drivers.

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Knowsley Council’s Private Hire Vehicle Policy is unlawful

Licensing-Lawyer.co.uk

The High Court has ruled that a policy requiring Private Hire Drivers to work “predominantly” in the area of the Knowsley licensing authority is unlawful.

Knowsley Borough Council had amended its Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Policy so as to require applicants for PHV drivers licences to sign an undertaking that they would work predominantly within the Knowsley controlled district. The policy created a presumption of refusal of a PHV driver’s licence to any applicant who did not demonstrate a bona fide intention so to work. Kerr J quashed the policy as unlawful on the ground that section 51 of the LGMPA 1976 provides that a driver’s licence “shall” be granted to an applicant who is a fit and proper person and has held an RTA driving licence for at least a year. Where he ultimately drives is immaterial.

It is well established that, provided vehicles and drivers used to fulfil a PHV booking are licensed by the same authority as licensed the operator, the actual journey undertaken may lawfully pass through, or may even begin and end in, an area wholly unconnected with the licensing authority. Knowsley council nonetheless sought to persuade the High Court that an applicant who had little or no intention of working within its boundaries was not a fit and proper person within the terms of section 51, because he would be undermining a principle of “local licensing” that has been recognised as central to the private hire regime provided by the 1976 Act. The judge rejected Knowsley’s submission as contrary to the decided cases on the meaning of “fit and proper person” within that section (McCool v Rushcliffe (1998) and Leeds City Council v Hussain (2002)), namely, that the ‘fit and proper’ criterion relates to the personal characteristics and qualifications of the driver.

Generic licence

The judge agreed with Delta’s submission that a PHV driver’s licence is generic in nature – i.e. it is a licence to drive private hire vehicles generally, rather than to drive a specific vehicle. It follows that the enquiry made by a licensing authority as to an applicant’s fitness and propriety is an enquiry restricted to his fitness to drive private hire vehicles in general. The locations in which a PHV driver might lawfully work are not relevant to that enquiry.

Other grounds

Once the intended use policy was held to be unlawful, it was not necessary for the Court to rule on the other grounds of appeal raised by Delta. The judge, however, indicated (without ruling on the point) that it was strongly arguable that the policy was a disproportionate measure to meet the council’s expressed aims of vehicle/public safety; but he remarked that he was yet to be persuaded that the policy was so uncertain of meaning as to be unenforceable.

Judicial review brought by Uber Britannia limited

A judicial review of Knowsley’s policy, brought by Uber on overlapping but by no means identical grounds, was heard at the same time as Delta’s appeal, and was equally successful in its principal arguments.

Licence conditions: geographical considerations?

Although Delta and Uber were ad idem with regards to their primary contention that Knowsley’s intended use policy was ultra vires, the two firms parted company on one potentially important issue – which, although it was academic in the instant case, the judge said might arise for decision in future litigation. The issue surfaced in oral argument, which tested the limits of whether it would be lawful to import geographical considerations into PHV licence conditions. Delta accepted that an appropriately worded condition which promotes the principle of local PHV licensing (as identified by the courts) is capable of being lawful; Uber, on the other hand, argued that such a condition would in all cases offend the principle in Padfield because it would curtail the ‘right to roam’ – which, it was Uber’s contention, is fundamental to the legislative scheme for private hire vehicles given by the 1976 Act.

Kerr J expressly demurred from deciding the point, but towards the end of his judgment he commented that he was “fortified” by what he had heard in thinking that a fit and proper person might, in principle, be required to abide by a condition (otherwise lawful) imposed in order to meet any perceived erosion of localism.

Gerald Gouriet QC and Charles Streeten appeared for Delta Merseyside Limited

Instructed by Keith McKinney of Aaron & Partners LLP

 

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Taxi driver killed in shooting in Barnet near Cockfosters station

A taxi driver has been killed in a fatal shooting in Barnet. The 41-year-old man was found with gunshot wounds after police were called to reports of shots fired at 11.44pm on Monday (February 12).

Officers, including specialist firearms units, attended the scene in Mount Pleasant, at the junction with Edgeworth Road, along with paramedics from London Ambulance Service. London’s Air Ambulance also attended, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene at 12.15am yesterday (February 13).

Next of kin have been informed. Formal ID awaits and a post mortem examination will take place in due course. There have been no arrests so far.

As of yesterday evening, a crime scene remained in place with some limited local road closures remaining. Motorists were advised to avoid the area. Officers have now launched an appeal for information about the fatal shooting of the 41-year-old man.

Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, of the Met's Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: "Our investigation is in its early stages but already we are pursuing a number of leads. "We believe the victim was driving a silver Mercedes, which he had been using in his work as a taxi driver. “He was approached by the occupants of a blue van; a number of suspects then got out and fired at the victim, who had also got out of his vehicle.

"The suspects then got back into the vehicle and fled the scene in the direction of Edgeworth Road, turning right into Park Road. "It is critical that we hear from anyone who witnessed this incident; any fragment of information could be vital to our investigation. “Please do not assume that we already have your information."

Anyone with information can contact the incident room on 0208 785 8099 or tweet @MetCC.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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Rossendale taxi licences HALVED after 'knowledge' crackdown

The number of hackney cab licences issued by Rossendale council has dramatically dropped by nearly 1,500 following the introduction of stringent new tests and enforcement action. Figures show the number of taxis currently licensed by the authority stands at 1,165 - down 56 per cent from a whopping 2,600 licences in 2016.

Licensing bosses have hailed the impact of new ‘knowledge and conditions tests’ to improve standards and safety and enforcement to crack down on drivers operating outside of the borough.

A three-section test was introduced last year covering basic maths and English, conditions and bylaws and geographic knowledge of the Rossendale area. Applicants also have to complete a two-hour training session and pass a multiple-choice test.

A new council report states that since June 2017 a total of 640 new applicants and 160 renewal drivers have taken part one of the test. Of all the renewal applications received, 56 were drivers working in Rossendale and all ‘achieved the required standard’. However, 85 per cent of those living and working outside the Valley failed and have had their application for renewal refused.

Coun Steve Hughes, chairman of the council’s licensing committee, said it ‘shows the good progress we are making’. He said: “We’ve had an issue in the past where our policy hasn’t been robust enough and we’ve taken clear action. We are now seeing the benefits of that.

“The introduction of the various tests and mandatory CCTV is a massive step forward and makes a huge difference to both the safety of drivers and passengers. “For everybody that was saying we aren’t taking this issue seriously then what this shows is we are and doing everything we can to ensure the public are safe and the vehicles that are licensed are fit and proper.

“If you want a licence but are operating outside of this borough then go to the borough that you’re going to operate in. There was a lot of uproar about drivers having to take the tests but we pursued along with that and they are reaping the rewards. They have passed and are seen as better drivers.”

A council licensing report states that joint working with officers from other local authorities, the police and VOSA staff is ‘having a significant impact on those who choose to work out of area’.

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Is Uber a tech or transport firm? Europe's highest court's about to decide

A major question of modern times asking whether Uber is a transport or technology company is set to be answered by Europe's highest court on Wednesday.

The European Court of Justice will make a ruling in a long-running case originating in Spain and is expected to decide that Uber is a transport company.

The implications of the ruling are that Uber will be regulated as such in future and rules can be set at country level, whereas laws for digital platforms are set Europe-wide.

In an earlier opinion from an adviser to the court, which is not legally binding but foreshadow's the decision in the majority of cases, advocate general Maciej Szpunar said Uber was "undoubtedly transport".

Uber had argued that it is digital service, but insists that a decision against it will not impact its business. "Any ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law. However, millions of Europeans are still prevented from using apps like ours. As our new chief executive has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber. We want to partner with cities to ensure everyone can get a reliable ride at the tap of a button.”

The case was first brought by cabbies in Spain and is in relation to its UberPop service which lets anyone use their car to take rides. That service has faced a number of difficulties with regulators in Europe, most recently being shut down in Helsinki and Zurich.

The ruling will however give authorities better direction on how to handle the startup.

It comes as Uber returned to court today to outline its appeal case in connection with its licence in London. Transport for London moved not to renew its licence in September but Uber can continue to operate while an appeal is heard.

Lawyers acting for the regulator told Westminster Magistrates Court that one or two issues with the accuracy of information provided by Uber were among the "points the decision is based".

Uber on Tuesday was given a five-year licence to operate in Cambridge while officials in Sheffield last week gave it the green light following a brief suspension. The London appeal is due to be heard next year.

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Taxi drivers with Knowsley badge could have licences REVOKED if they don't work locally

Moves comes after floods of applications from Manchester drivers

Taxi drivers in Knowsley could have licences REVOKED if they don't work locally

Taxi drivers granted a licence in Knowsley could now have their badge revoked if they don’t work in the borough.

In January Knowsley Council suspended issuing new taxi licences over concerns that changes to their licensing process made it too easy for people to qualify as a taxi driver and that the system was being gamed by drivers from Manchester and Liverpool - causing problems for local drivers.

Now the council are recommending further changes to the licence approval process and say they will ‘consider refusing to issue a drivers licence or revoking an existing licence if a driver is not, does not intend to, or has not worked, predominantly within the locality of Knowsley’.

It is no longer a requirement for a Hackney cab or private hire driver to live and work in the area where the licence is issued which, coupled with the ‘street knowledge’ section of the application being removed, has seen an influx of applications from people outside the area.

Taxi drivers in Merseyside spoke out over the issue claiming would-be drivers are ‘scamming’ Knowsley Council by going into the borough applying for a licence and then going to Manchester or Liverpool to ‘work for Uber’ because they don’t have to have street knowledge to get a licence in the borough.

A report prepared for the council’s licensing committee, which is expected to meet on Monday (March, 20), said: “Over the last 12 months there has been an unprecedented increase in private hire applications in Knowsley.

“In view of this increase, the decision was taken to ‘temporarily’ suspend all new private hire and hackney carriage driver applications on January 9, while a review took place into the reasons for the increased numbers and to consider whether the council’s existing policies remained robust and fit for purpose.”

The suspension was lifted on January 30 and a number of reasons for the increase in applications were detailed in the review, including the fact the knowledge test was abolished and drivers obtaining licences in Knowsley could work in other areas.

Knowsley Council says the review ‘also revealed there were a number of drivers who had been licensed in the borough but were not working in Knowsley and some of these drivers were working solely outside of the Liverpool City Region’.

The report goes on to say: “It is therefore proposed that the existing Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Policy be amended to include an intended use provision.”

Uber have made representations to Knowsley Council stating they do not support the ‘introduction of an intended use policy’, however Alpha said that it a good idea.

Delta are objecting to the new policy, saying: “It would mean that any Delta driver licensed by Knowsley would have to return to the Knowsley area after they had dropped off a customer before being allowed to accept another job.”


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Taxi driver caught operating uninsured weeks after his he was stripped of his licence

A former taxi driver who had his private hire licence suspended was caught behind the wheel of a taxi just six weeks later. Peter Gallimore, 43, of Barsloan Grove, Peterlee, was taken to court by Durham County Council, charged with driving a private hire vehicle without the correct licence and driving without valid insurance.

Gallimore was stripped of his hackney carriage and private hire drivers’ licence back in June 2017, when a licensing sub-committee heard he had been convicted of speeding and so suspended his licence for a three month period. However, Gallimore was subsequently witnessed driving a private hire Mercedes V Class through Gateshead, just six weeks into his suspension.

Furthermore, a check of the insurance policy on the vehicle revealed that the policy was only valid if the driver held a private hire driving licence.

Appearing at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court, the defendant pleaded guilty to both offences, and in mitigation said he was running a taxi company on behalf of a friend who was on holiday. When a job had arisen which he wasn’t able to cover, Gallimore claimed he panicked and took it on himself.

Magistrates fined Gallimore £445, and ordered him to pay costs of £279.51 and a victim surcharge of £45. Six points were also endorsed on the defendant’s driving licence, which resulted in an immediate six month disqualification due to previous motoring convictions.

Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, said: “The purpose of taxi and private hire licensing is to protect the public. “Passengers and other road users need to be safe and driving a vehicle without any valid insurance places others at risk. “I hope this prosecution sends a strong message to unlicensed taxi drivers that there are serious consequences for ignoring the law. “In Mr Gallimore’s case, this means paying hundreds of pounds in fines and court fees, and ultimately the loss of his driving licence.”

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A taxi used to carry children to and from school was found to be unlicensed when stopped by council officers, a court heard. The vehicle was being used to operate a school transport contract for Gwynedd council at a language unit at Ysgol Eifionydd in Porthmadog on June 20 last year. But the licence for the Skoda Octavia, which was owned by A1 Cars of Bethesda, had expired six weeks earlier.

Taxi boss David Alan Owen, 60, of Bryn Tirion, Bethesda, pleaded guilty to being the proprietor of a private hire vehicle without having a current licence. He was fined £450 and ordered to pay £245 costs.

Lesley Mitchell, prosecuting on behalf of Gwynedd council, told magistrates at Caernarfon that the licence for the taxi had expired on May 8, some six weeks before it was seen at the Porthmadog school. She added Owen’s firm had been awarded a school transport contract to carry four pupils from the school from June 19 to July 11.

Council officials had sent Owen a written reminder that the licence was about to expire and also called him to advise him not to use the vehicle until the licence had been renewed. Ms Mitchell said council records showed Owen had been late in renewing taxi licences on 16 previous occasions but there were no relevant previous convictions.

Gilly Harradance, defending, said Owen had run the business for 16 years, employed 14 staff and operated 18 taxis. She said all are licensed and the business pays Gwynedd council £3,000 in renewal fees each year. “He tries his best to renew the licences on time and does his best to run the business as well as he can,” she said.

The solicitor explained Owen planned to sell the vehicle and had not renewed the licence as they cannot be transferred from one vehicle to another. The Skoda had not been used but was pressed into service on this occasion after another vehicle broke down. “He had not realised the consequences of using the vehicle,” she said. “Mr Owen is very embarrassed to be before the court in these circumstances.”

Two charges of using a motor vehicle without insurance and failing to return a Hackney carriage identity plate within seven days of notice to do so were withdrawn by the prosecution.

A Gwynedd council spokesperson said: "We are satisfied with the outcome of today’s hearing and would like to thank the magistrates for highlighting the importance of ensuring that taxi drivers are licenced as a means of ensuring public safety. "We take this issue of taxi drivers continuing to operate under expired licences very serious and believe that the severity of the sentence passed reflects the court’s view on the matter.

"We will continue to work closely with local taxi companies to ensure that the public have access to safe, regulated and insured transport. "We would emphasise that the vast majority of taxi companies operate within local and national rules and the rare examples of unlicensed vehicles undermine their hard work and diligence. "This is why we take such action against unregulated taxis and would urge members not to take a lift from unlicensed taxis."

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Uber driver ‘got scared and washed his penis after sex attack victim said she had HIV’

An Uber driver who put his penis into a sleeping passenger’s mouth was ‘comforted’ by his victim after she told him she had HIV, a court heard. The woman told Snaresbrook Crown Court that she lied about having the disease so Suleiman Abdirizak would stay away from her. But the 42-year-old became so ‘scared’ he had contracted the virus that he washed his penis with a bottle of water, she claimed.

Earlier in the journey, the driver from east London demanded oral sex, the woman claimed, telling her: ‘I will drive you home if you suck my dick.’ The finance worker had been out at a bar and grill with friends on November 10 2016. She drank a bottle of wine, and had also been taking flu medicine as she had been unwell.

Prosecutor Gary Venturi said the woman ordered an Uber Pool and was dozing in the car when she noticed the driver was taking an unusual route. He said: ‘He explained it was the pool system and she fell asleep again for about a minute. When she woke up the defendant was pushing his penis against her mouth. ‘She was in shock and this was taken advantage of.

He had his penis in her mouth twice. Then, she was able to say that, ‘You don’t want to be doing that because I am HIV positive’. ‘He took out his penis and was washing it and his mouth.’

Giving evidence, the woman said: ‘He said, ‘I will drive you home if you suck my dick’. ‘I said absolutely not. I remember saying to him, ‘I am sure you are a nice guy, but you don’t want to sleep with me. I have had HIV for five years’. ‘He got a squash bottle and he started washing his mouth and penis. He went on Google to look up HIV. ‘I think he was really scared and he was frightened. I was trying to comfort him. I was like, look chill you won’t get HIV.’

When she arrived back at her flat, she ran to her friends and told them what happened, and they called the person. The journey was estimated as a 19-minute trip by Google, but took more than 40 minutes. Abdirizak, of Rifle Street, Poplar, east London, denies rape. The trial continues.

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Mandatory CCTV could be on the way for taxi cabs

Taxi drivers in South Ribble may be forced to have CCTV in their vehicles in future. Licensing councillors are due to discuss the issue this evening. The borough was rocked by a taxi driver child sex abuse scandal a couple of years ago.

South Ribble Council’s general licensing committee will discuss a report about the authority’s current permissive stance towards the use of CCTV in licensed vehicles, as well as being updated on the benefits and legal implications of it becoming mandatory. Councillors will be asked to consider going down the mandatory route.

Commissioner Mary Ney was a strong supporter of the use of mandatory in-cab CCTV when she carried out a review of South Ribble’s licensing section in March 2017 in the wake of the local scandal. The committee will be told that currently nine councils – Brighton and hove, Herefordshire, Gravesham, Northumberland, Portsmouth, Rossendale, Rotherham, Southampton and Warrrington – are currently looking to go mandatory.

Councillors will be told that there would be “significant” legal implications of such a move, which could throw up issues of intrusion and infringement of civil liberties. There would be cost implications, too, understood to be several hundred pounds per vehicle.

Councillor John Rainsbury, chairman of the committee, said: “It is very important that we have these discussions over the future of taxi licensing in South Ribble - and that we make sure any proposed changes to our service are given full consideration. “The safety of drivers and passengers has to be of paramount importance - which is why I look forward to debating the pros and cons of mandatory in-cab CCTV.”

Philip Briggs, manager of Leyland-based Avacab, said passenger safety was paramount. He said he supported mandatory courses for the discloure and barring service and child protection, for example. He said: “I’m aware large cities have it because of passenger safety and driver safety, but we’re quite a rural borough and we very rarely have any issues with passengers and drivers towards passengers. On paper it looks like a good idea, but you have to make sure passengers are safe with data protection and all that.” He added: “There are definitely more pros than cons.”


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London cabby gets in the driving seat of first TX electric tax

Last July, the London EV Company unveiled an electric makeover for the iconic London black cab. The TX eCity taxi was certified to carry passengers in the UK's capital last month and the first vehicle out of the dealership has now been handed over to a London cabby.

The keys of the first TX to leave the company headquarters of Geely-owned London EV Company (LEVC) were handed over to 46 year-old David Harris from Chingford earlier today. The ex pro tennis player was one of the first taxi drivers to register for the TX electric black cab when the order books opened in the middle of last year. And LEVC reports that Harris expects to save up to £600 (roughly US$840) per month in running costs compared to his now mothballed diesel cab.

The TX is a range extender electric vehicle, where LEVC's eCity technology is made up of an electric powertrain supported by a small petrol generator. It has an all electric range of 80 miles (130 km) per charge, but with the help of the petrol engine the overall taxiing can get up to 400 miles. Since he plans regular fast charge top-ups at Heathrow airport between pickups, Harris may even be able to roll around London completely emissions free.

Each TX taxi includes enough room for six passengers, has forward-facing wheelchair access, power sockets for laptops and USB ports for mobile devices, and onboard Wi-Fi. A panoramic sun roof should help tourists get the most out of a quiet jaunt through London's city streets.

No sooner had Harris taken possession of his shiny new TX, than his first fare-paying passengers were picked up near LEVC's north London dealership. The company says that hundreds more TX taxis will start quietly and cleanly rolling out in the coming months.

25/01/2018

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Four bailed in Telford taxi driver murder inquiry

Four people held on suspicion of murder following the death of a taxi driver whose car hit a tree have been bailed. The driver, in his 50s, is thought to have been involved in two altercations with occupants of another car before the crash in Telford, Shropshire.

Police say the first incident took place near a Tesco in Madeley and the second just afterwards by a school. The taxi crashed in Madeley Road at 22:30 BST on Monday. Two men and two women were held and are now on bail. A passenger in the taxi was injured and taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

The taxi driver was in a red Skoda Octavia while the other car involved was a silver Peugeot 307. Det Ch Insp Stephen Tonks, from West Mercia Police, asked anyone with any information about both cars travelling along Park Avenue, Park Street, Ironbridge Road and then Madeley Road, to contact police or Crimestoppers anonymously. The two arrested women are aged 37 and 18 and two men 31 and 18.

Graham Hoof, operations director at Go Carz where the taxi driver worked, said: "We can confirm that the incident in Madeley involved one of our drivers who sadly passed away. "We are assisting the police with their investigations and our thoughts are very much with the driver's family and the passenger who was injured."

_________________

25/01/2018

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Man refused taxi licence after trying to hire prostitutes

A MAN was refused a taxi licence after it was revealed he had been cautioned by police for trying to hire a prostitute. The applicant was before Bolton Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee last week to ask for a licence to drive a private hire vehicle. The committee decided to refuse the application because of a ‘pattern of behaviour’ relating to attempts to solicit a prostitute that they thought made him not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

Councillors heard that the applicant, who cannot be named, had received a caution for soliciting someone for the purposes of obtaining their sexual services as a prostitute in a street or public place in March, 2011. The man also received a warning about trying to hire a prostitute in 2008.

Minutes of the meeting state: “The sub-committee was concerned that the applicant had a pattern of behaviour relating to this type of conduct. The 2008 incident was not declared by the applicant.” The sub-committee found that the driver is not a fit and proper person to hold a licence. It found that drivers are placed in a position of trust and have a duty to conduct themselves in a lawful and professional manner at all times.

Bolton Council’s statement of fitness and suitability indicates that if a person has a conviction or an offence related to sexual offences such as soliciting, importuning, indecent exposure or other similar offences and it was committed less than then an application is normally refused. The minutes state that the applicant did not provide evidence to justify overturning this presumption and he would be working in an unsupervised environment.

The sub-committee’s primary duty of concern is for the safety and well-being of the public and found reasonable cause to refuse to grant the licence. The minutes state: “Members of the public and in particular, the elderly, infirm and children or vulnerable adults entrust their personal safety and wellbeing to private hire drivers whenever they take a journey. “Passengers often travel alone and are vulnerable to inappropriate behaviour.”

The man and his wife both attended the meeting and gave verbal evidence.

Another applicant also went before the sub-committee to renew his licence. It was set to be heard because of a ‘misconduct matter’ and the applicant attended the meeting but asked the matter to be referred because his solicitor was not available. The sub-committee heard evidence from the licensing officer and the matter was deferred until a future meeting.

25/01/2018

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Complaints lead Bromsgrove District Council to reconsider taxi licensing requirements

A CONSULTATION has launched over proposed changes to taxi licensing requirements in Bromsgrove, after complaints from drivers.

Bromsgrove District Council's Licensing Committee is asking residents to reconsider policies agreed last year relating to driver qualifications and the level of tint allowed on taxi windows.

Currently newly qualified taxi drivers are required to earn an NVQ level 2 in Road Passenger Vehicle Driving or equivalent within 12 months of passing their test.

The qualification, which includes mandatory units covering health and safety, customer service and dealing with emergencies, was set up with the aim of strengthening taxi drivers' skills, knowledge and overall performance.

Since the requirement was agreed in April 2016, licence holders have reported problems obtaining the qualification, due to a lack of training providers in the area. Others have complained about the cost of obtaining the NVQ.

Bromsgrove council, which is currently the only licensing authority in Worcestershire to have this requirement, is now considering replacing it with a requirement to undertake disability awareness training.

The consultation also asks residents to reconsider the existing requirement that taxi windows can not be tinted to a level that conceals the identity of the passengers inside.

Local drivers have raised concerns, claiming that the majority of new vehicles are fitted with some level of tint on the windows.

Cllr Peter Whittaker, whose portfolio includes regulatory services, said: "The council keeps all its policies under review to ensure they remain fit for purpose, and as these two matters have created certain difficulties for both licence holders and the council, the Licensing Committee has decided to carry out consultation on some proposals that may address them.”

11/01/2018

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A Folkestone taxi driver accused of ‘trying to rape’ teenage passenger ‘high on morphine’ found not guilty of sexual assault

A taxi driver accused of sexually assaulting a girl “he thought was 13” while she was “out of it” on morphine has been found not guilty. Folkestone Magistrates’ Court heard how Atif Meer, 27, started to get angry with his 17-year-old passenger when she declined his advances “because he needed to have sex with an English girl”.

The Folkestone Taxi driver, who has since lost his licence, was due to get married in Pakistan just days after the incident. He admitted there had been touching after he picked the young girl up in Dymchurch on January 31 last year, though he said she consented.

After a two day trial, magistrates ruled the teenager’s behaviour “was not consistent with being sexually assaulted“ – including a text message saying: "Help. Taxi driver perving." The girl, who admitted she was “out of it on morphine” on her journey home to Ramsgate, was later found “crying” and “shaking” by a security guard in Tesco Whitfield.

John Bishop, prosecuting, said Meer was a “predator” to the girl during her “vulnerable state”, who had taken one-and-a-half times her daily dose of medication for a back problem. He said: “The broad picture is a vulnerable 17-year-old girl who found herself in a taxi with a man who made sexual advances towards her at night where she does not know where she is.”

The court heard how during the journey, Meer had pulled into two laybys after groping the girl, telling her he “needed to have sex with an English girl” before he left for Pakistan to get married. The teenager said: “He said I was like 13. I was trying to say I was 18 and stuff to look, like, more mature. “He was saying he wanted to have sex, and I was like no. “Then he started to get angry, and then he said I need to have sex now because I am going away.”

Meer was then seen buying condoms at BP Limekiln Street in Dover, which the girl later admitted she initiated so she could “get some help”. The girl was also shown on CCTV trying to show a cashier a text message asking for help, but then returned to the taxi and was seen having a cigarette with Meer.

The court heard how the pair then travelled to Tesco Whitfield after she told him she was allergic to latex condoms, where she there told a security guard a man was trying to rape her. Meer was later arrested at 5am at his home in Broomfield Road.

Keith Betts, defending, said: “When the defendant suggested sex, she suggested buying condoms. “That might make the defendant think she was consenting.” He also said the girl’s account was “confusing”, saying: “I found it difficult to find what the victim was saying, what happened and when.”

Meer, who was seen grinning after the verdict, said the girl had told him she was a stripper and previously had sex with her boyfriend in the back of a taxi. He said: “She pointed to me my car was big enough, so I took it has a hint she was asking for sex. “During the journey, I had my right hand on the armrest, and she had her hand in my fingers for about 30 seconds. I rubbed her right thigh with my left hand.”

Chairman of the bench Dr Singh said the girl’s behaviour was “not consistent with being sexually assaulted”, making reference to the girl returning to the taxi after a BP cashier had told her to stay where she was safe. He said: “We do not accept a lot of what happened on that journey.”

Meer is now asking for costs after paying to defend himself.

11/01/2019

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Man banned from using taxi firm for two years after racially abusing driver and trying to set fire to police car

A man who attacked a taxi driver in Taunton and hurled racist abuse at him tried to set fire to a police car when he was arrested. Steven Edney, 49, of East Reach, Taunton, got into an altercation with a Romanian taxi driver after too many people got into his cab.

Prosecuting, Felicity Payne said the taxi driver had been booked and had been waiting for some time, before three men - including Edney - came out to get into the taxi. But when two more tried to pile into the taxi, the driver said he was was unable to take them anywhere because he was over his passenger limit.

During the altercation, Edney told the man: "We are English, you are a foreigner. You have to take us." After the group were turfed out, Edney returned to the taxi driver and tried to pull him out of the car, before slamming the door on his elbow. When police were called, Edney set fire to his hoodie, in the footwell of the car, causing mild scorch and smoke damage.

He admitted a charge of racially aggravated assault, arson and being in breach of a community order when he appeared before Taunton Crown Court this morning. Defending, Simon Jones said his client was living in a hostel and had problems with alcohol and illegal substances, but had 'grown up' since the incident.

Sentencing, Judge David Ticehurst said: "You're 49-years old. You've never done a hard days work in your life. Instead you spend your time in a hostel, taking drugs and drinking. "You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. You tell your barrister that you have grown up? Racially abusing that taxi driver? Trying to set fire to a police car? That's grown up, is it? I don't think so."

He sentenced him to 10 months in prison for racially aggravated assault, and one month in prison for breaching the community order, to run concurrently. He was also sentenced to 10 months for arson, to run consecutively, making a combined sentence of 20 months in prison, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to pay £55 compensation and was also handed a restraining order banning him from contacting Abbey Cabs for two years.

09/01/2018

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Bogus taxi driver fined and disqualified from the road

A man who was operating an un-licensed taxi service has been fined £4,700 and disqualified from driving for 18 months, following a case brought by Wealden District Council.

Ashley Hussey, 48, of Parklands, Maresfield, trading as Village Cars, was found guilty by Hastings Magistrates’ Court on December 1 in absence. His case was adjourned until December 22 for sentencing. As a result of his actions, Mr Hussey now has a criminal record.

He failed to attend both hearings and the court heard that he had his taxi driver’s licence revoked by Wealden District Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee in May 2017 for using an un-licensed vehicle. Also, there had been numerous customer complaints regarding the poor level of service provided to them by the taxi driver, with many left stranded and out of pocket following his failure to arrive and take them to pre-booked arrangements, including hospital appointments and airport runs.

Despite having his taxi licence revoked and receiving further warnings from the council, Mr Hussey continued to trade as Village Cars and drive his unlicensed taxi, and his vehicle was logged in the vicinity of Gatwick Airport on more than 80 separate occasions between August and December 2017.

As a consequence the council made an application to the court to utilise its powers to disqualify Mr Hussey from driving to prevent his continued disregard for the legislation. “It is clear that Mr Hussey had a blatant disregard for the licensing regime and the service he provided to the public,” said Cllr Nigel Coltman, Chairman of the Licensing Committee.

“Despite being given every opportunity to comply, and repeated warnings to cease his unlawful activities, he continued to trade and to let down members of the public. “I would encourage people to check before getting into a taxi that it bears the correct identification markings showing it is operating legally and that the driver carries their official identity badge.”

All licensed taxis are subject to annual insurance checks and a full twice-yearly mechanical inspection, while drivers must pass regular medical and criminal record checks. A Wealden spokesman said: “If you have any doubt then don’t ride and tell the council’s licensing officers of your concerns.”

08/01/2018

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A taxi driver has been jailed for more than five years for sex offences against people with disabilities.

William Busher, 69, of Long Lane, Hillingdon, was sentenced at Oxford Crown Court earlier having previously pleaded guilty to nine charges.

They included seven counts of sexual activity with a person with a learning disability impeding choice.

He also admitted to causing and inciting sexual activity with someone with a disability impeding choice.

Busher was working as a taxi driver for adults with learning disabilities when the offences happened in Henley-on-Thames between February 2012 and June 2016, Thames Valley Police said.

Investigating officer, Det Con Sophie Hollis, said he had "abused his position of trust" and took advantage of the women's vulnerabilities.

08/01/2018

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ontroversial minicab firm Uber has been given an operators licence in Aberdeen.

The American ride-hailing app who have recently been banned from London and York confirmed it was given the go ahead to operate by Aberdeen City Council but have yet to set a date for its release in the Scottish city.

The minicab app currently operates in both Glasgow and Edinburgh where it has come under much scrutiny from existing private hire and taxi firms.

According to STV a spokesperson from Uber said: "We're really pleased about being granted a licence in Aberdeen. Uber has brought more choice and competition to cities across the UK, helping to raise service levels across the board.

"Passengers tell us they love being able to book a reliable ride at the touch of a button, pay without cash and track their car on their phone.

"Furthermore, tens of thousands of licensed private hire drivers across the country have partnered with us because with Uber they can choose if, when and where they drive."

08/01/2018

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Uber driver fined for illegally plying for trade in York

A taxi driver, who was working for Uber, has been found to have illegally plied for trade in York and has been ordered to pay a total £1,404 . He was also given six points on his driving licence. In August 2017 as part of a joint enforcement operation, City of York Council officers and North Yorkshire Police were carrying out routine checks of taxis and private hire vehicles in York city centre.

Sohail Ahmed, aged 45 of Wensleydale Road, Bradford, was stopped on Holgate Road, while driving a Hackney carriage licensed by Rossendale Borough Council. At the time, Mr Ahmed had two passengers on board.

After making enquiries with the licensing authority Rossendale BC and the operator Uber, the journey was found not to have been pre-booked. As a hackney carriage operating outside of his home licensed area, Mr Ahmed could only take pre-booked private hire work. The passengers had not booked this journey nor was any booking made through the driver’s operator Uber.

Mr Ahmed’s insurance was also found to only cover pre-booked journeys, so taking passengers without a booking invalidated his insurance.

In his absence, York Magistrates’ Court found Mr Ahmed guilty of plying for hire and issued a fine of £200, plus driving with no insurance for which he was fined £660 and given six penalty points on his driver’s licence. In addition, he was ordered to pay a court surcharge of £66 and prosecution costs of £478.20.

Cllr Sam Lisle, executive member for housing and safer communities, said: “Driving without insurance and flouting licensing regulations does not build customer confidence in the trade. We enforce standards and, where appropriate, prosecute breaches of the law governing taxis.”

08/01/2018

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A PRIVATE hire driver who stole a mobile phone from a drunk and vulnerable female passenger has been jailed.

Ihsan Yurbas was convicted of the theft after trial last March. A sheriff found allegations that he had sexually assaulted the victim ‘not proven’.

Livingston Sheriff Court was told that the Turkish national had since been sentenced to 27 months in prison for culpably and recklessly pouring petrol over the wheels of a patrol car and marked police Transit van outside Leith police station on May 22 last year.

The 41-year-old was sleeping rough in his taxi at Holyrood before he was imprisoned.

Sheriff Martin Edington sentenced Yurbas to 90 days in prison and told Yurbas he was lucky not to have been found guilty of the sexual offences, which depended on both women corroborating each other. He said: “Given the evidence, you should consider yourself fortunate you weren’t convicted of charges one and two. What remains is a very unpleasant offence of a taxi driver who stole a mobile phone from a distressed and very vulnerable female late at night.”

06/01/2018

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A SUSPECTED bogus private hire car has been filmed touring the city trying to pick up Hogmanay revellers – sparking safety fears.

The red Volkswagen Touran with a pre-booked sticker on one door but no official plates was spotted in Elm Row and York Place.

Private hire cars must be registered and cannot pick fares up off the street. Two sex attacks have been linked to unlicensed cars in the past year.

A black cab driver captured the footage on his dashcam before confronting the driver and reporting it to police.

"I spotted him in Elm Row and ten minutes later in York Place, looking like he was going to pick up from the casino. He saw me and he took off,” said the 48-year-old cabbie.

He tailed the VW along Queen Street and through back streets before finally catching up with the driver in Chester Street.

“I got a torrent of abuse from him,” said the taxi driver of 25 years. “He said he’d only bought the car yesterday and it already had the sticker on.”

Ali McPherson, of the Edinburgh Taxi Association, called for better regulation amid concerns for public safety.

“The first thing is, people need to realise these cars aren’t taxis – they can’t stop on the streets,” said Mr McPherson.

“The council should have enforcement teams out – Glasgow does but we don’t. They should be out checking on private hires and taxis as well.

“What does it take? I’m scared for my own kids as well,” said father-of-three Mr McPherson.

Last February, a 19-year-old student was raped after getting into a car in the Grassmarket after a night out.

And in August, another 19-year-old was sexually assaulted after getting into a car she thought was a private hire in Regent Road.

“We’ve had sexual assaults, does it take a murder? It’s nonsense and so frightening,” said Mr McPherson.

The city council sought to assure that an enforcement team was out throughout December with just over 1770 licensed private hire cars on the Capital’s roads.

Licensing Sub-Committee Convener, Councillor Cathy Fullerton, said all licensed private hire drivers undergo full police vetting and a medical check.

“In addition, our enforcement team works in conjunction with Police Scotland to carry out regular duties to ensure the safety of customers,” added Cllr Fullerton.

“We would strongly encourage all members of the public to make sure they get into licensed taxis or pre-book their private hire car journey.

”Passengers can request to see a copy of the licence and the drivers’ identification issued by the council after being vetted.

A police spokeswoman said: “We are investigating a report of a possible bogus private hire taxi operating in the Edinburgh area on December 31 and January 1. Inquiries are ongoing.

”Anyone with information is asked to contact Gayfield Police Station via 101, quoting incident number 4778 of January 1.

06/01/2018

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York Council chiefs refuse to renew Uber's licence in York

Council chiefs have refused to renew the taxi-hailing company Uber's licence to operate in York. Members of York Council's Gambling, Licensing and Regulatory Committee tonight debated for more than two hours over Uber Britannia Limited's application. The company's current 12-month licence is due to expire on Christmas Eve.

Councillors concluded that the taxi-hailing firm was not a fit and proper person - a required condition to refuse an application of its kind. A spokesperson for York Council said: “The application by Uber Britannia Ltd to renew its private hire operator’s licence in York has been considered by City of York Council’s Gambling, Licensing and Regulatory Committee tonight.

“Applying the legislation, the committee has decided to refuse the application having concerns about a data breach currently under investigation and the number of complaints received."

Speaking after the meeting Neil McGonigle, general manager for Uber in York, said the company would now review the details of the decision. He said: “This is a disappointing vote for the riders and drivers who use our app in the city. "More choice and competition is a good thing for both consumers and licensed drivers in the area. "Passengers tell us they love being able to track their car on a live map, pay without cash and get a receipt with their fare and the route taken.

"Licensed drivers partner with us because with Uber they can choose if, when and where they drive. We will review the details of the decision once we receive the formal notice from the council.”

It comes after Transport for London refused to renew Uber’s licence on the grounds of “public safety and security implications” in September. The firm's appeal against that decision in London will be heard by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in Spring next year. Uber Britannia Limited can lodge an appeal with the Magistrates' Court over the latest decision by York Council.

Coun Sonja Crisp tabled a motion to refuse the application on the basis of the data breach that affected the 57 million customers and drivers in 2016. The second reason for refusal related to complaints made against the firm in York. The decision is the latest blow to hit the taxi-hailing company, after Uber had its licence suspended in Sheffield this week. The move came after the firm failed to respond to requests for information about its management.

Since December 2016, 296 complaints were made relating to hackney carriage and private hire vehicles or drivers in York up to November 22. York Council said 155 of these complaints related to Uber vehicles or drivers. But only four related to an Uber vehicle or driver licensed by the council - and 129 were made against those licensed by other local authorities, leading to councillors raising questions about the number of Uber drivers coming from outside York to work in the city.

Coun Dave Taylor, a member of the committee, said during the meeting: "This city needs to have control of its taxi services and it needs to have a level playing field and I don't know if that means then national legislation aught to be tidied up. "But I don't think that we can license a company which directs drivers to go around the houses, pumping up fair for customers, that tries to claim it has no liability for any claims, demands or losses, which claims to have a local office but never seems to staff it and the number of complaints against them is so high. "I think those are the grounds on which we can refuse this licence."

Neil McGonigle, Uber Head of Cities, North of England, spoke in support of Uber at the meeting. He revealed that some 28,000 have used the company's app in York in the last three months. Mr McGonigle said: "From our experience the passenger like the ability to press a button to request a car, take a trip without having to use cash at all and from a safety point of view, being able to track every element of that journey real-time.

"Whether that's themselves, family members, friends or whatever through the app." He said people from 73 different countries are now using the app in York, as Uber has recently taken on more international visitors in York.

The meeting was told licenses for Uber to operate had been refused in Reading, North Tyneside and Cardiff. Saf Din, chairman of York Hackney Carriage Association said he does not object to competition, but that Uber was not a "fair player" in the public transport game. Ahead of the decision, Mr Din told the meeting: "I urge you to be the most active members by refusing the application and offer no licence until you are fully satisfied." He also handed over a petition regarding safeguarding of passengers, objecting to Uber's licensing renewal.

Speaking during the debate tonight, Coun Suzie Mercer said: "I was still undecided having read the papers and I'm still undecided. "Everyone is just trying to do a job, you've got good apples and bad apples in all trades. "Uber is used all over the world by millions of people. In York it's mainly the young people who use it and I think maybe as well it's probably a young thing. "Out of town drivers wouldn't come if there wasn't any work and we must remember that if the public want it, then who are we to deny it?"

06/01/2018

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Dundee taxi driver accused of sexually assaulting passenger as she entered his vehicle

A Dundee taxi driver has been accused of carrying out a sexual assault on one of his passengers while she entered his vehicle. James William Miller, 61, of Buttars Loan, will stand trial on one charge at Dundee Sheriff Court.

Miller is accused of sexually assaulting the woman by placing his hand on her buttocks and on the rear of her leg — without her consent — at High Street in Lochee, and nearby South Road. The offence is alleged to have happened on December 2.

During an appearance at the sheriff court, Miller pleaded not guilty to the charge. A trial is set to take place on April 4, with an intermediate diet on March 13. Miller was released on bail meantime.

Unite taxi rep Chris Elder said safety was paramount for taxi passengers and added: “I would not really wish to comment further given that the case is still going through court.” Mr Elder said there were about 1,500 taxi drivers currently operating across the city.

Chairman of Dundee City licensing board Stewart Hunter said he wanted to reassure the public that passenger safety was its main priority. Mr Hunter added: “Alleged incidents of this nature are treated on an individual basis.

“I can’t comment on this individual case but I can say that there are a significant number of taxi drivers in Dundee and the vast majority are trustworthy and reliable and it’s definitely safe for the public to travel with them. “The licensing committee will deal with this case in due course.”

The council said it could not comment on an on-going case.

03/01/2018

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Fake taxi driver picked up woman in Southampton and carried out sex attack before dumping her on M27'

A ‘FAKE’ taxi driver lured a drunk woman into his car before sexually assaulting her as he drove her home, a jury has been told. Elvis Williams allegedly touched his intoxicated victim inappropriately after posing as a taxi driver outside a Southampton nightclub.

He then left the drunk woman on the side of a motorway slip road after she screamed at him to let her out, say the prosecution. The victim also made a phone call to a friend who demanded that Williams tell him where they were.

Williams allegedly replied: “She’s got no clothes on, come and get her.” After the call was ended, the victim screamed to be let out of the car. Williams later dropped her off on the slip road of junction nine of the M27, near Whiteley. There she met a a group of men who called the victim’s friends to pick her up.

Williams, 58, of Mosaic Close, Southampton, denies kidnap and sexual assault. During the opening of his trial at Southampton Crown Court yesterday, the jury was told how Williams was spotted driving around Bedford Place in July, calling out his driver’s side window as if he were a taxi.

This prompted concerns from two off-duty security staff, visiting the owner of nightclub 90 Degrees, after travelling back from work in Swindon. One of the pair, Marcel Cullers, thought Williams was targetting women.

Mr Cullers subsequently approached one woman, who was alone and intoxicated, to warn her not to get Williams’ Seat Leon. However, she proceeded to get into the car. Mr Cullers said that he heard Williams say “you better have money” in an aggressive manner before speeding off. He later phoned the police to report the incident.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, alleged that Williams touched the inside of her upper thigh while driving her home. Prosecuting, Richard Martin told the jury that the victim had not consented and that it constituted a sexual assault. Police arrested Williams on the same day of the assault, which took place in the early hours of July 30.

According to the prosecution, Williams “exercised his right to silence” and gave a no-comment interview to police. Mr Martin said that he will later provide evidence that Williams was not a licensed taxi driver and did not have the necessary insurance for a commercial vehicle. Williams, who appeared in court wearing a dark suit and glasses, has pleaded not-guilty to all charges.

The trial continues

03//01/2018

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Fiona Bruce MP urges Government to stop cross-border taxi hiring

FIONA Bruce is calling on the Government to stop cross-border taxi hiring. The MP for Congleton, as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis, is urging transport minister Chris Grayling to resolve the issue.

Cross-border taxi hiring is where a taxi registered in one borough operates in another even if they do not have a licence to do so.

Mrs Bruce said: "I have met a number of times with a group of taxi drivers from the Congleton constituency for whom this has been a major problem for some time. "Taxi drivers without the licence to operate here in Cheshire come across the county border to take business from within this area, which they do not have the right to do. "This is particularly concerning on late weekend nights when local taxi drivers who work long hours need this business and it is galling for them to have it wrongly taken."

In a letter written to Mr Grayling, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis says that some drivers have been 'exploiting' a clause in the Deregulation Act 2015, which allows them to operate in different boroughs to where they are registered.

The letter said: "In such cases, authorities are left with no control over which drivers operate in their local area, ultimately leaving them unable to protect passengers and the public. "Local authorities must have te power to decide who does and who doesn't work in their area."

Mrs Bruce has previously worked with Cheshire East Council and Cheshire Police in a bid to resolve the issue, and she is now calling on the Government to introduce a statutory definition of cross-border, stronger locally-appropriate regulations and minimum licensing standards. "We must ensure we have fair regulations for local taxi drivers who work extremely hard to serve this community," she added.

01/01/2018

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A Christmas crackdown on cabbies and private hires saw one driver arrested for drug driving and others cars suspended and seized across Merseyside.

Merseyside Police’s roads policing unit tweeted last night saying they carried out a taxi and private hire operation with Liverpool City Council’s licensing team.

The post said eight vehicles were suspended from operating due to “defects”, and another vehicle was seized for not having insurance.

Shockingly, one driver was arrested for drug driving on Mad Friday in Liverpool.

It is unclear whether the driver arrested for drug driving was a Hackney cab driver or a private hire driver. but the headline said cabbie :roll:

The roads policing unit later updated their twitter feed to say a total of ten private hire vehicles and Hackneys were suspended with 30 defects.

LCC Licensing are the council service responsible for taxis, alcohol and other licencing activities in Liverpool, as well as “public protection”.

With the festive season will underway and the city centre busy with Christmas celebrations, private hires and black cabs have come under fire for allegedly cherry picking customers and charging some people double their usual fares.

Last week, passengers claimed drivers were refusing certain destinations and some were charged extortionate fares to get home.

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Taxis Are Public Transport too

30/12/2017

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Killers, rapists and paedophiles apply to become Merseyside taxi drivers

Killers, paedophiles and rapists have applied to become taxi drivers in Merseyside. The horrifying criminal pasts of people who wanted a taxi licence were revealed through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) by the Liverpool ECHO.

The shocking crimes people had been convicted of before applying to drive a cab include four counts of rape, 10 of manslaughter and more than 90 convictions for indecent assault - including 18 on girls under the age of 14 - since 2012. There was also someone who had applied with a conviction of sexually assaulting a girl under 13 and data showed 16 convictions outlined on applications for making indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child.

The DBS statistics showed that over the last five years more than 9,000 applications were submitted by people with previous convictions. Following this startling discovery every council in Merseyside was sent an FOI to ask how many criminals had applied to be taxi drivers in their borough. The ruling authorities were also asked if any applicants were successful in gaining a taxi licence despite their convictions and what the nature of the convictions for successful applicants were.

West Lancashire and Halton were also included due to the transient nature of the job and every council, apart from Knowsley, replied to the requests with varying degrees of information. Most council responses were very limited, however Sefton Council revealed hundreds of drivers were issued a taxi licence despite criminal convictions between 2014 and 2017.

Previous convictions that were not a bar to driving a cab in the borough include sexual offences, possessing weapons, racially aggravated harassment, drug dealing and drug producing, drink driving and theft. Some of those offences were committed by taxi drivers already working with a Sefton Council badge and the borough’s ruling authority still chose to continue the criminal’s licence.

In Halton the council responded to the FOI to say they could only give “very limited information” because of the laws and how they held the data. They revealed that one applicant who had an assault and threatening behaviour conviction and another who had committed theft were granted a licence. The ECHO understands that both private hire and Hackney carriage drivers across the county had concerns over who was applying for licences.

Drivers voiced their unease over people applying for licences after Knowsley Council scrapped the knowledge test. Those who spoke out over the problem wished did not want to be identified, but said that the fact drivers had no knowledge of their local area was not the only worrying facto. They suggested that knowing you didn’t have to pass the test encouraged anyone to apply.

Among other applications subjected to DBS checks by councils were eight counts of causing death by dangerous, reckless or careless driving. There was also someone who applied who had a conviction for voyeurism or recording a person doing a private act. Thousands of people with convictions for drink driving and driving while disqualified had applied, alongside hundreds convicted of dangerous driving. The figures do not show if applicants with these convictions were given licences.

At minimum, every driver is subject to a DBS check and councils have discretion over whether to disregard previous offences. Final decisions on whether to grant people licences are made by the licensing committee.

A spokesman for the DBS said: “The protection of children and vulnerable groups is of paramount importance and DBS checks are an important tool for informing employment decisions.”

Council responses to FOIs

Liverpool

“All drivers undergo an enhanced check through the DBS.

“Records of convictions are not retained by the city council.

“As such we do not hold information relevant to your request.

“Information as regards individual licence holders is considered to be personal data and as such is exempt from disclosure.”

Wirral

“Once a licensing decision has been made regarding an applicant any records of convictions are not kept.

“The Licensing Authority therefore does not hold this information.

“It is a matter of public record when an applicant is referred to the Licensing Panel for a decision to grant or refuse a licence and www.wirral.gov.uk holds details of meetings and committees.

“Although unable to provide details of individual cases I can advise that some applicants who have convictions have been granted licences in accordance with Wirral Council’s Policy and Guidelines relating to the Relevance of Convictions.”

Sefton

The response from Sefton Council was very thorough and answered the questions asked in the FOI as outlined in the piece above.

Knowsley

Did not respond.

St Helens

“This data is not held in a format that we are able to extract.

“A manual search of existing records would need to be carried out which would take longer than the 18hrs allowed for this purpose.

West Lancashire

“In order to provide you with the information on the scale that you have requested would require to individually examine each record for all issued private hire and hackney carriage driver licences.

“We estimate that it will take us in excess of 18 hours to determine appropriate material and locate, retrieve and extract the information in reference to your request. Therefore, your request will not be processed further.”

Halton

“Only information on proposed drivers who fell outside the Councils Relevance of Convictions Policy guidance and who attended before the Councils Regulatory Committee and the applications were determined is available.

“As Regulatory Committee items dealing with such matters are deemed exempt items and therefore not for publication by virtue of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 very limited information can be provided.”

That information is provided in the piece.

30/12/2017

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A taxi driver's life "disintegrated" as he embarked on a crime spree with a woman who was later stabbed to death.

A court heard Paul McComb had been essentially a family man who had led a mostly blameless life.

But when he struck up a friendship with 36-year-old Lisa Marie Thornton after giving her a lift, they started to meet. He ended up giving her cash for drugs, taking cocaine with her and helping her to steal in the hope of their relationship becoming sexual.

After his wife threw him out, the 64-year-old burgled a former elderly taxi client, stealing more than £1,000 in cash. But police tracked him down and on Tuesday December 20 he was jailed for two years at Bristol Crown Court.

rest is about her murder (not the driver)

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30/12/2017

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A woman was left with a broken leg after being attacked by a group of other women in a row over a taxi.

The 30-year-old was waiting outside a sports bar with her boyfriend when an argument broke out with another group who were also looking for a cab.

A fight then ensued, leaving both the woman and her boyfriend injured.

The woman suffered a broken leg, and bruising to her thigh, finger and one arm. She was taken to hospital for treatment.

Police have now released CCTV of a woman wanted in connection with the assault just after 3am on Sunday, July 23, outside the Champs Sports Bar and Grill on Chapel Road in Ilford.

Detective Constable Jonathan Lam, from the East Area Command, said: ”As the victim patiently waited for her taxi, she was attacked by a boisterous crowd intent on taking the taxi as soon as it pulled up outside the sports bar.

"I would appeal to anyone who recognises this woman to contact us."

The suspect is described as a woman in her 30s, with long dark hair, dark rimmed glasses, and wearing a dark top with light trousers.

30/12/2017

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Taxi driver's unlawful pick-up turned out to be policemen

A taxi driver told magistrates it was a "one-off thing" when he was caught picking up a fare without a booking. Private hire driver Maroof Bostan was arrested during a police operation cracking down on private hire drivers illegally plying for hire. Private hire jobs must be pre-booked.

Bostan, 51, of Bakerdale Road, Bakersfield, had been in his Toyota Prius outside the Old Dog and Partridge pub, in Lower Parliament Street. Magistrates in Nottingham heard police were in plain clothes in the city during the taxi operation at 9pm on October 30. And they walked up to the parked Toyota and asked Bostan "if he was free to take them somewhere" and a fee was mentioned.

He agreed to go to Porchester Road, Mapperley, said prosecutor Daniel Pietryka. But after setting off, the defendant was asked to pull over and the policemen explained who they were. Bostan was charged with plying for hire when his car was not licensed as a public hackney carriage.

On Friday (December 29) he entered a guilty plea before justices, who fined him £296 and ordered he pay costs of £85 and a £30 victim surcharge. The clerk to the court told the magistrates she had a letter from D G taxis, saying the company was "truly shocked" and it was a "momentary lapse on his part". The firm provided a map of its base, which is near to the pub where the accused made the pick-up.

Bostan, representing himself, confirmed to the court he normally had pre-booked fares. He has been doing the job for a "very, very long period of time", he said, and had "never had any problems with a taxi licence". "It was a one-off thing really," he added. "I don't have a police record or anything."

After he was given the fine he left court, turning to the magistrates and saying: "Thank you very much."

29/12/2017

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Reports of sexual assaults by taxi drivers rise 20% in three years

The number of alleged sexual assaults committed by taxi or private hire drivers has risen by 20% in three years. According to figures released under freedom of information laws, at least 337 assaults were reported between April 2016 and March 2017 in England and Wales – up from 282 in 2014-15. A number of incidents were recorded where the victim was a child under 16.

The figures, obtained from 23 of 43 police forces, relate to a wide range of vehicles, including illegal minicabs, Uber cars and black cabs. Most of the police forces could not break it down by firm or type of vehicle.

The disclosure follows a decision by Transport for London to strip Uber of its operating licence in London, in part due to concerns about the company’s failure to report sexual assaults to police. Media reports show at least 32 allegations in London in 2016 involving Uber drivers. The company is appealing against TfL’s decision and its drivers can continue to operate while the appeal runs its course.

Campaigners noted that a rise in the number of reports of sexual assault could be positive if it meant more women were reporting crimes. But they were concerned it could also be due to a lack of vigilance when employing drivers.

Katie Russell, a spokesperson for Rape Crisis England and Wales, said: “It’s an alarming figure but it is always hard to know whether the increase is due to a rise in crime taking place or an increase in sexual assaults being reported. Sexual offences have been massively underreported so an increase in willingness to report will play some part in the statistical increases.

Russell added: “The obvious next step is for companies themselves to do urgent reviews of their security systems because obviously there are some weaknesses … We know rapists and sexual offenders are often quite devious in how they plan their attacks. They often get themselves in positions of authority and responsibility, where they have access to potential victims - those industries may be attractive to sexual offenders.”

Sarah Green from the End Violence Against Women Coalition said the figures should remind those in government “that licensing is of the upmost important for women’s safety”. She added: “We need an examination of how we ensure women undertaking a straightforward taxi service can know they will be safe.”

At the end of March 2017 there were 356,300 taxi or private hire vehicle driver licences in England, 39% of which were in London. The number of drivers has risen over the last few years.

Most of the reports of assaults were in the capital, with the numbers rising from 142 to 156 in three years. Det Supt Adnan Qureshi, of the Met’s roads and transport policing command, said: “The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) will not tolerate any offences committed upon passengers of private hire vehicles and will robustly pursue offenders. Any offence is one offence too many.”

Sarah Castro, director of development at the charity Safer London, said: “If people think they can get away with this they will try ... what we need to do is close down those loopholes so attackers know if they do attempt this it will be investigated by the taxi companies and they will be prosecuted.

“People who want to abuse others will get into positions where they can do that so we cannot blame the industry but we do expect the industry to put in safeguards and procedures that make it difficult for people who have a history of doing that to work for them.”

In other areas the number of incidents doubled over the period examined. In Essex incidents went from six to 12 and figures from Lancashire constabulary show a rise of 11 to 25.

A spokesperson for Essex police said: “What this figure does indicate is that people are more confident about coming forward to report this type of crime to us and have more confidence in us to investigate ... We work closely with local authorities around the issue of licensing and will continue to do so and are robust around DBS [Disclosure & Barring Service] checks.”

29/12/2017

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Taxi boss gunned down

The chairperson of a KwaZulu-Natal taxi association died in a hail of bullets when his vehicle was ambushed in Sweetwaters on Christmas morning.

Sources told The Witness that Mpumalanga Taxi Association chairperson Mbhekeni Hlophe (64) had been driving in his white Audi A5 near the Mpumuza Clinic on Monday morning when three men in a silver Mercedes — two allegedly armed with 9 mm firearms — began shooting at Hlophe.

A source said the Mercedes allegedly drove in front of Hlophe’s car and blocked him off. The gunmen then opened fire, firing some 31 shots and spraying bullets through the driver’s side window and the windscreen.

It is believed Hlophe died immediately after suffering multiple gunshot wounds to his body.

An informed source told The Witness that a bag with money and a firearm were left in Hlophe’s car in the wake of the shooting, indicating the killing was most likely a “hit”, but this could not be confirmed officially.

KwaZulu-Natal provincial police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane, said a case of murder was opened at the Plessislaer police station following the shooting of Hlophe.

He said the motive for the killing was unknown at this stage.

“No arrests have been made and our provincial task team is investigating the matter,” said Zwane.

KwaZulu-Natal has been plagued by taxi-related violence this past year.

On Christmas eve, 80-year-old KwaMnyandu Taxi Association chairperson Mzameni Mthiyane was shot and killed at his home in Umlazi.

Mthiyane was in his bedroom when an unknown man came to the house and asked to speak with the chairperson.

Zwane said when Mthiyane went outside, the visitor asked for employment and Mthiyane told him to call the office at Z section taxi rank.

“Mthiyane turned to go back to the bedroom and the man shot him once in the head before fleeing the scene,” said Zwane.

“The motive for the killing is unknown.

“One 9 mm cartridge was found inside the house. The provincial task team will investigate the case,” he said.

In July this year, 66-year-old taxi operator Sibusiso Obed Nkomonde from Newcastle, who chaired the Sizwe Taxi Owners Association, was shot dead.

Nkomonde was ambushed by three armed men on the P843 while driving from Osizweni to Utrecht.

He was alone at the time.

In another incident in July, an eight-year-old child and her mother died after they were hit by a vehicle as the driver dodged gunmen on the N3.

Two executive members of the Mpumalanga Taxi Association were shot at along the N3, near Cato Ridge, as they made their way to Pietermaritzburg. One victim, said to be the vice-chairperson, died at the scene while the other, a vice-secretary, was rushed to hospital with serious injuries.

In late October this year a “well-planned hit” on a Klipriver taxi boss left 10 people dead near Ladysmith.

Klipriver Taxi Association deputy chairperson, Muzikayifani Ngobese, his daughter Nozipho, two bodyguards and Ngobese’s driver came under fire from gunmen using high-calibre weapons while they were travelling in a bakkie along the Matiwaneskop Road early in the morning.

Occupants of two unknown vehicles began firing shots and when the hail of bullets hit Ngobese’s car the driver lost control and crashed into an oncoming minibus taxi that was transporting teachers.

The taxi boss and all occupants of his car were shot dead. Another five people in the minibus taxi died and other passengers were seriously injured.

Reacting to news of the shootings of Hlophe and Mthiyane, the KZN chairperson of Santaco (South African National Taxi Association), Boy Zondi, expressed shock that two KZN taxi bosses were shot dead in just one weekend.

He said although the killings were “disturbing”, he could not speculate on whether they were related to taxi violence or not.

“If the killings are taxi-related, when will this all stop? If we cannot see eye to eye then we need to sit down and talk about it, not pick up guns and shoot people,” said Zondi.

“We send our sincerest condolences to both families and we say to the taxi industry that they need to stop using guns and start using boardrooms to resolve issues,” he said.

Zondi added that there were 242 taxi associations in KZN but said there are only “a few dirtying the taxi industry’s name”.

“We hope the police find the people who have done this and they are brought to justice.

“It is a very sad day,” he said.

28/12/2017

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Christmas is a time for giving, receiving, sharing and loving. It's a time for communities to come together and doing your bit to help others - so it's no wonder this group of young Muslim volunteers are being lauded for a touching act of kindness.

A group of young Muslim volunteers decided to ensure 100 elderly people in Yorkshire got the best Christmas Day possible - by putting on a FREE taxi service. The heartwarming act saw 25 Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) members in Huddersfield shepherd pensioners from a care home to the town centre, so they could tuck into a free Christmas dinner.

According to our the Huddersfield Examiner, the group helped serve Christmas dinner and hand out presents when they got there. And the group has spent the run up to Christmas giving out chocolate and fruit to care home residents, as well as at Kirkwood Hospice and Calderdale Royal Hospital.

Nadeem Ahmed, the regional Youth Leader of Yorkshire, said: “It was such an honour to extend a helping hand and to bring a smile to the faces of so many people. “We felt like a family with the people we helped and that is how they felt too.

“People may wonder why we take time out to help, but we enjoy doing the voluntary work we do because it is our religious obligation. Islam encourages us to help alleviate hardships and respect and honour our elders.”

Robert Iredale, who helped organise the dinner at Milnsbridge Village Hall, said: “We had about 30 people and they all had a smashing time. One woman said she’d been invited to family but she came to us to see her friends.

“As an organiser the Ahmadiyya Muslims make my job easy! It is a great big help. “They picked up 12 people this year. Quite often the people are in wheelchairs or on walkers. The Muslims brought their own transport and this year they brought a specially adapted van for wheelchairs.

“They are wonderful. All our volunteers are - this year we had to turn volunteers away! People are so generous with their time. “It’s very easy to tell bad news, but the volunteers that help us are excellent.”

28/12/2017

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A taxi driver was robbed at knifepoint in Blackpool this evening (Dec 24th).

The incident happened on the Yeadon Way service station at around 7.30pm.

The attacker, a male with his face covered by a scarf, appeared at first to be a customer.

But he forced the driver out of the taxi - an electric vehicle - after pulling a kitchen knife out and threatening him.

The male then got in the vehicle and drove off, resulting in a police pursuit of it down the M61 into the Greater Manchester area.

The police helicopter was scrambled and followed the stolen vehicle, reporting its progress from above.

Police said the vehicle came to a halt in the Westhoughton area after it ran out of power at about 8.10pm.

A man was detained at the scene.

27/12/2017

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Men are jailed for attacking taxi driver

THREE men including one from Southsea have been handed prison sentences for robbing and assaulting a taxi driver. Bradley Gill, Aaron Brown and Ryan Meyer were sentenced to a total of 14 years and one month for the assault on Saturday, August 19.

The victim, a taxi driver, suffered minor injuries after he was assaulted by the three convicts at the Esso petrol station in Chichester Road, Bognor Regis. He picked the three men up from Sheiks nightclub on The Esplanade, and when the men became aggressive he stopped the vehicle and fled.

Bradley Gill, 23, of Cadnam Road, Southsea, was arrested on 20 August but pleaded not guilty to robbery. He was found guilty after a two-day trial at Portsmouth Crown Court and was sentenced to five years in jail on December 18.

Aaron Brown, 24, and Ryan Meyer, 21, both of no fixed addresses, were arrested in October by Thames Valley Police. The pair pleaded guilty to robbery and Meyer was given a 49-month sentence and Brown a 54-month sentence with a further nine months for the breach of a suspended sentence.

Detective Constable Jonathan Tizzard of the investigations team said: ‘These three men caused a considerable amount of distress to the victim and during the investigation showed little remorse. ‘We are glad the court has recognised the serious nature of these offences and the sentencing for the trio has been a welcomed result.’

26/12/2017

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When three men did a runner from a Shudehill taxi without paying, they hadn't counted on instant karma

Three men did a runner from a taxi without paying... and dropped £120 as they fled. The brilliant tale of Christmas karma was shared on Facebook by GMP’s City Centre team on Saturday.

They say that Mr Hameed, a private hire driver, dropped the men off at Shudehill at around 6pm on Friday night. But instead of handing over the fare for their journey into Manchester’s centre, they legged it, throwing stones at Mr Hameed’s car as they did, and damaging one of the windows.

The disheartened taxi driver rang police to report what had happened, but was not optismistic of a result. Little did he know however that an eagle-eyed off-duty officer from South Wales police had witnessed the entire thing – and spotted one of the men had left something behind.

Pc Evans, who was visiting Manchester, picked up the cash that had been dropped and called police, expecting the money to be booked in and never seen again. But just hours later, the Welsh PC Evans received a call from GMP City Centre’s PC Hilton.

He met up with the officer and Mr Hameed, and the £120 that had been left by the fare dodgers was handed straight over to the taxi driver. GMP City Centre’s post added: “No paperwork, no waiting for compensation at £5 per month, and Mr Hameed is back on the road with a smile on his face.

“It’s rare that we can get a result for taxi drivers in these circumstances, and if we do, it usually takes time or gets bogged down in policy and procedure. “We thought it would be nice to offer up some swift poetic justice, and £120 sounded about right for the fare and damage. “If it was your £120 and you think we’ve been unfair, please get in touch. We may get in touch anyway…”

26/12/2017

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When three men did a runner from a Shudehill taxi without paying, they hadn't counted on instant karma

Three men did a runner from a taxi without paying... and dropped £120 as they fled. The brilliant tale of Christmas karma was shared on Facebook by GMP’s City Centre team on Saturday.

They say that Mr Hameed, a private hire driver, dropped the men off at Shudehill at around 6pm on Friday night. But instead of handing over the fare for their journey into Manchester’s centre, they legged it, throwing stones at Mr Hameed’s car as they did, and damaging one of the windows.

The disheartened taxi driver rang police to report what had happened, but was not optismistic of a result. Little did he know however that an eagle-eyed off-duty officer from South Wales police had witnessed the entire thing – and spotted one of the men had left something behind.

Pc Evans, who was visiting Manchester, picked up the cash that had been dropped and called police, expecting the money to be booked in and never seen again. But just hours later, the Welsh PC Evans received a call from GMP City Centre’s PC Hilton.

He met up with the officer and Mr Hameed, and the £120 that had been left by the fare dodgers was handed straight over to the taxi driver. GMP City Centre’s post added: “No paperwork, no waiting for compensation at £5 per month, and Mr Hameed is back on the road with a smile on his face.

“It’s rare that we can get a result for taxi drivers in these circumstances, and if we do, it usually takes time or gets bogged down in policy and procedure. “We thought it would be nice to offer up some swift poetic justice, and £120 sounded about right for the fare and damage. “If it was your £120 and you think we’ve been unfair, please get in touch. We may get in touch anyway…”

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24/12/2017

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Men are jailed for attacking taxi driver

THREE men including one from Southsea have been handed prison sentences for robbing and assaulting a taxi driver. Bradley Gill, Aaron Brown and Ryan Meyer were sentenced to a total of 14 years and one month for the assault on Saturday, August 19.

The victim, a taxi driver, suffered minor injuries after he was assaulted by the three convicts at the Esso petrol station in Chichester Road, Bognor Regis. He picked the three men up from Sheiks nightclub on The Esplanade, and when the men became aggressive he stopped the vehicle and fled.

Bradley Gill, 23, of Cadnam Road, Southsea, was arrested on 20 August but pleaded not guilty to robbery. He was found guilty after a two-day trial at Portsmouth Crown Court and was sentenced to five years in jail on December 18.

Aaron Brown, 24, and Ryan Meyer, 21, both of no fixed addresses, were arrested in October by Thames Valley Police. The pair pleaded guilty to robbery and Meyer was given a 49-month sentence and Brown a 54-month sentence with a further nine months for the breach of a suspended sentence.

Detective Constable Jonathan Tizzard of the investigations team said: ‘These three men caused a considerable amount of distress to the victim and during the investigation showed little remorse. ‘We are glad the court has recognised the serious nature of these offences and the sentencing for the trio has been a welcomed result.’

24/12/2017

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Burton taxi firm vows not to raise rates for Christmas and New Year

A Burton taxi firm has thanked customers for their loyal support following the St Peter's Bridge closure - by pegging its Christmas and New Year prices. New Street Taxis has vowed not to raise rates over the festive period as a special gesture of goodwill to regular passengers. The Park Street firm has announced that they will be charging single fares, like any other day of the year, as people go out to celebrate Christmas and the start of 2018.

Bosses say they suffered a loss of trade over September and October, when St Peter's Bridge was closed for repair work, causing huge congestion problems for drivers and complaints from many other firms of falling revenue. Drivers were faced with difficult journeys that would usually take 10 minutes lasting an hour, causing the taxi firm to lose out on hundreds of pounds worth of business over the course of a working week.

A spokesman for the company said: "Because of the bridge closure earlier this year, we had a really difficult time. "We want to say thank you to our customers for supporting us through that tricky period and we're hoping that keeping cheaper rates over Christmas and New Year will be good for them."

24/12/2017

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A PRIVATE hire driver has lost his licence after he left a young girl in a state of fear or alarm during an argument over the cost of her fare which went viral online.

Safaa Alsaffar had his licence taken off him at a recent meeting of Glasgow City Council's Licensing Board.

It comes after Mr Alsaffar was investigated by The Taxi and Private Hire Enforcement Unit following a complaint by the woman.

We previously reported in July that Zoe Webb had recorded the conversation between herself, the driver and the taxi controller before posting it on the social media website Facebook.

Ms Webb had been told by City Cars that a taxi from St Stephen's Church in Dalmuir to an address in Neilston would cost £20.

During the recording, Mr Alsaffar can be heard questioning the quote for the journey with his controller and the passenger.

He also asked the woman to pay the fare up front, which she said he attempted to raise to £30, and threatened to put her out the taxi unless it was paid.

The controller could also be clearly heard telling Mr Alsaffar: "The passenger was given a quote, I have told you what the quote is and you need to honour that quote."

In a report to the Licensing Board, Ms Webb said: "The taxi driver acted completely inappropriately towards me, placing me in a state of fear, concern and distress whilst abusing duty of care to me as a vulnerable member of the public with an expectation that he would professionally transport me to my chosen destination."

Mr Alsaffar’s licence was due to expire on May 31 but the local authority decided that it was ‘suspended for the unexpired portion’.

Councillor Alex Wilson, Chair of Licensing and Regulatory Committee, said: “Our duty is to ensure that passengers are taken safely from A to B without being without being put in state of fear or alarm.

“It’s the conduct of the Mr Alsaffar that we are concerned about, not the issue of the distance of the journey.

“He should have picked up on the fact that the passenger was becoming distressed and acted accordingly.

“There should not have been a quibble over the fare.

“The passenger was quoted a price and that was confirmed by the driver’s control.

“The problem should not have been with the passenger but the driver’s control.

“He should have taken the passenger to her destination and then taken it up with control, asking them to make up the difference.”

Mr Alsaffar was represented at the hearing by a solicitor from Miller Kendal Solicitors, Glasgow.

She told the committee that according to City Cars’ own tariffs that a journey of 17 miles between Clydebank and Neilston with one drop-off on way, should have cost £27.

She added that Mr Alsaffar, of Dundee, never asked for £30. He was asking for £25.

She said: "Control was wrong on this matter. They got their distances wrong. The management of City Cars also confirmed that Mr Alsaffar was never advised that a £20 fare had been agreed in advance. As far as he was concerned he was entitled to ask for the sum he was asking for. He was in fact undercharging, not overcharging."

She added: "It was out of character for him to behave in this way. I do not think he feels it was acceptable."

22/12/2017

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Uber boss to hold talks with Transport for London next week

Uber’s new chief executive will fly to London next week to meet with the transport commissioner for talks over the withdrawal of Uber’s licence in the capital. Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over the top job last month, is meeting transport commissioner Mike Brown on Tuesday as the ride-hailing service seeks to “make things right” in one of its biggest markets.

The move, which Transport for London (TfL) said was instigated by an approach from Uber, comes days after Mr Khosrowshahi wrote an open apology to Londoners, saying “we have got things wrong”. It also comes just hours after Prime Minister Theresa May said last week’s decision to stop Uber operating in London had “damaged lives” and put 40,000 jobs at risk. Mrs May added that the decision was “disproportionate” and had “damaged the lives” of 3.5m Uber users.

An Uber spokesperson said: “Our new CEO is looking forward to meeting with the Commissioner next week. As he said on Monday, we want to work with London to make things right.” London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is the chairman of TfL, said “it would have been “wrong for TfL to have renewed Uber’s licence if they had concerns about Uber being a fit and proper operator.”

Mr Khosrowshahi, the former chief executive of Expedia, has been tasked with fixing Uber’s corporate culture and repairing the company’s image following a string of scandals. In his apology he admitted that Uber, which is appealing the decision, must change after it was deemed as having “a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications”.

Uber’s licence in London expires on Saturday, but it will be able to operate in the city during the appeal.

A Transport for London spokesman said: "Following an approach from Uber, and at the mayor’s request, London’s Transport Commissioner will meet with Uber’s global CEO in London next Tuesday.” The announcement comes as Uber rival Addison Lee launched a campaign to hire around 1,000 new drivers. The company said "increased corporate and peak demand" was behind the move. Of the new recruits, 900 will join the Addison Lee fleet while around 100 will join Tristar, the upmarket taxi company it bought last year.

21/12/2017

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The Uber London Model is not Lawful

TfL has finally released the full reasons for its refusal to renew Uber’s London licence. In a letter to Uber dated 22 September, which the regulator had not made public until yesterday (19 December), TfL sets out in detail how Uber had misled it, and also misled the High Court, as to the order in which bookings are accepted through the Uber APP. TfL say that Uber’s answers to questions were “materially false and misleading”.

In the same letter, TfL said that it was “currently minded to think” that the Uber model does not comply with the 1998 Act and is unlawful. TfL did not explain why ‘unlawfulness’ was not an express reason for refusal of Uber’s licence, other than to say that Uber’s misleading answers on the issue were “sufficient to undermine [its] fitness to hold a London PHV operator’s licence“.

In September 2017 TfL announced that it had not renewed Uber London’s licence: but the full reasons were not made public. When the LTDA asked to see those reasons TfL replied that the LTDA “was not entitled to them”.

The LTDA made an application to participate in Uber’s appeal to the magistrates’ court: its application was strenuously opposed by Uber. At a hearing on 19 December the Senior District Judge allowed the LTDA’s application and gave it permission to participate in Uber’s appeal. The extent and manner of LTDA participation will be decided by the judge on 30 April.

TfL’s 22 September letter was released on the afternoon before the hearing of LTDA’s application to participate in the appeal, as a direct result of the LTDA’s written submissions to the Court.

The substantive appeal is listed on 25 June 2018, with a provisional time estimate of 5 days. LTDA’s involvement is likely to be dependent on whether or not TfL pursue the point that Uber’s model is unlawful.

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21/12/2017

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Uber drivers’ exhausting shifts make them a ‘danger to public safety’

Uber poses a threat to public safety because it encourages its drivers to work long, exhausting hours, according to a union. In a court hearing, the GMB union made its case for why it should be involved in the legal battle between Transport for London and the taxi app.

‘Large numbers’ of Uber drivers are members of the union, making it ‘well placed’ to provide insight to Uber’s appeal against TfL, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard. The firm is appealing TfL’s decision not to refuse its licence in London on the grounds of ‘public safety and security implications’.

Gerry Facenna, representing GMB, told the court: ‘GMB is seriously concerned by the threat posed by Uber’s business model to public safety.’ This is because it encourages drivers to work excessive hours just to earn the living wage, he said. Uber has faced a number of concerns, including how it carries out background checks and its approach to reporting criminal offences.

Mr Facenna said: ‘From a public safety point of view, being driven around London by a driver who has worked a 15-hour shift is no better than being driven around by a driver who has not had background checks.’ The union wants a maximum hours cap to be introduced, as well as a limit on how many drivers can operate in an area at the same time.

But Thomas De La Mare, for Uber, said the suggestions were ‘obviously misdirected’ and any issues would affect all private hire operators, not just Uber. He told the court: ‘We don’t accept that there is any particular specific problem in relation to (Uber), where Uber should be singled out by way of licence conditions. ‘If there is a problem, it cannot be shown to be anything other than a systemic problem.’

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) also wants to become a participant in the case. Gerald Gouriet, appearing on behalf of the group, said: ‘Uber posed as an operator to obtain its operator licence as a sham to disguise the fact that what was happening was unlawful.’

Mr De La Mare responded by saying the LTDA’s argument had ‘long since faltered’, having failed when put forward in other cases. An Uber spokesperson said: ‘Drivers spend an average of 30 hours a week logged into our app. ‘However, this is not the same as the number of hours spent driving since drivers can log in while on a break or doing other things. ‘We take the issue of tired driving seriously, which is why we regularly remind drivers to take rest breaks and will shortly be introducing hours limits in our app.’

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20/12/2017

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Electric taxi plan scrapped after row with Leeds City Council

Yorkshire Evening Post

A TAXI company was forced to scrap an investment worth £3m after Leeds City Council blocked its bid to bring a fleet of emission-free electric cars to the city. Arrow Taxis, based in Horsforth, was on the verge of signing a contract with electric car giant Tesla to bring 30 electric cars to the city, a move it said would have kick-started an “electric taxi revolution” in Leeds and marked a massive step toward reducing the air quality problems currently being faced in the city.

However the firm said it has been forced to abandon the plans entirely after council bosses refused to allow electric taxis to drive in bus lanes.

Under current council rules, only so-called Hackney carriages or black and white cabs can use Leeds’s bus lanes, with regular taxis, known as private hires, treated like regular cars. But Arrow’s request that all taxi firms, not just itself, should be allowed access to these faster lanes if the taxi were an electric car, was rejected by the council.

David Richmond, chairman of Arrow Taxis, told the YEP: “It has been our plan to purchase an extensive fleet of Tesla vehicles. “This would have been fantastic news for Leeds, it could have kick started an electric taxi revolution in the city, dramatically helping the air quality problems we are facing. “Sadly we have now abandoned this idea 100 per cent due to the intransigence of Leeds City Council. “You cannot expect us to invest that money only to have these cars stuck in traffic on Kirkstall Road while a 10-year-old diesel taxi goes chugging by in the bus lane.

“To justify this level of investment utilisation is imperative, sadly we were pushing against a closed door. “To the average consumer they just see a taxi as a taxi. No-one says, ‘I am going to get a private hire vehicle to the restaurant’. It’s madness.”

Tesla, run by tech billionaire Elon Musk, manufactures luxury cars powered entirely by powerful electric batteries and which emit zero greenhouse gases. The cars are among the most sought-after motor cars in the world and increasingly becoming available in the UK. Mr Richmond said he and his firm had been to Amsterdam to negotiate the deal with Tesla, with each car costing £75,000 plus VAT and had the deal virtually all sewn up before having the rug pulled by the council.

Councillor James Lewis said: “We have had some positive dialogue with Mr Richmond, however as he is aware private hire vehicles and Hackney carriages are subject to different sets of regulation so we have to treat them separately in terms of policy. “Many of the issues raised here will be covered by the upcoming clean air zone consultation which starts on January 2, part of this will be talking to a range of fleet operators about how we can support them to transition to ultra-low emissions vehicles, including fully electric.”

20/12/2017

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Is Uber a tech or transport firm? Europe's highest court's about to decide

A major question of modern times asking whether Uber is a transport or technology company is set to be answered by Europe's highest court on Wednesday.

The European Court of Justice will make a ruling in a long-running case originating in Spain and is expected to decide that Uber is a transport company.

The implications of the ruling are that Uber will be regulated as such in future and rules can be set at country level, whereas laws for digital platforms are set Europe-wide.

In an earlier opinion from an adviser to the court, which is not legally binding but foreshadow's the decision in the majority of cases, advocate general Maciej Szpunar said Uber was "undoubtedly transport".

Uber had argued that it is digital service, but insists that a decision against it will not impact its business. "Any ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law. However, millions of Europeans are still prevented from using apps like ours. As our new chief executive has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber. We want to partner with cities to ensure everyone can get a reliable ride at the tap of a button.”

The case was first brought by cabbies in Spain and is in relation to its UberPop service which lets anyone use their car to take rides. That service has faced a number of difficulties with regulators in Europe, most recently being shut down in Helsinki and Zurich.

The ruling will however give authorities better direction on how to handle the startup.

It comes as Uber returned to court today to outline its appeal case in connection with its licence in London. Transport for London moved not to renew its licence in September but Uber can continue to operate while an appeal is heard.

Lawyers acting for the regulator told Westminster Magistrates Court that one or two issues with the accuracy of information provided by Uber were among the "points the decision is based".

Uber on Tuesday was given a five-year licence to operate in Cambridge while officials in Sheffield last week gave it the green light following a brief suspension. The London appeal is due to be heard next year.

20/12/2017

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Taxi fares are set to rise in Cardiff for hackney carriages in the new year for the first time in two years.

An application was made by Dragon Taxis to Cardiff council to increase the rate to fall in line with inflation.

now they are big company they have to generate big profits for shareholders :lol:

The charge for the first 103 yards will go up by 20p to £2.50 and after 103 yards, 20p will be charged for each subsequent 195 yards

All other charges will remain the same as the fares which are currently in place.

As part of the application, Gareth Owen of Dragon Taxis said: “In real terms drivers are now earning 5.3% less than two-years-ago and this application will bring drivers back in line with inflation.

“I am proposing an increase to the drop on the meter of 20p, bring the initial start of the meter from £2.30 to £2.50 and an increase in the ongoing mileage rate 10p per mile, bring the rate up from £1.70 per mile to £1.80 per mile.”

17/12/2017

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A PETITION signed by more than 250 taxi and private hire drivers has been handed to the council amid claims the authority is “victimising” drivers.

The York drivers are protesting against a £40 charge which must be paid to take part in compulsory safeguarding training, which is organised by City of York Council.

The petition claims the council is “victimising the York licensed trade" by demanding £40 per driver for the training course, adding that the fee from the trade's 888 drivers would amount to £35,520.

It said: “This will be done under threat of dismissal by the York taxi licensing department if the course is not taken or failed.

“We believe that this is intimidation and victimisation as at the same time, York taxi licensing department are turning a blind eye to the out of town private hire and Hackney carriage drivers who will not be expected to take the course and as usual will not contribute a single penny to the city coffers.

"We feel that this is the final straw. Enough is enough.”

Mike Slater, the council's assistant director with responsibility for licensing, said the training was introduced after the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham, but drivers who could prove they had similar training need not take the course.

He said: “To protect our taxi drivers and the most vulnerable people in the city, we need every existing and future licensed driver in the city to understand all the issues around safeguarding. This is a decision being taken by many other local authorities.

17/12/2017

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I was left stranded in the pouring rain after a taxi driver refused to pick up me and my guide dog'

A blind woman has told of her anger at being left stranded in the pouring rain after a taxi driver refused to pick up her guide dog. Jeanette Fyfe says the incident in Sale left her feeling ‘powerless’. The social worker missed an important doctor’s appointment after booking a cab from Sale firm Scotts Cars. But when the taxi arrived at her home the driver refused to stop.

Now the cabbie has had his taxi driver’s licence revoked after Jeanette, 40, lodged a complaint.

Jeanette, who is registered blind and has severely limited sight due to a rare genetic disorder known as retinitis pigmentosa, says cabbies have refused to pick up her black Labrador guide dog Otto on at least 10 occasions in the past, but the incident in May was the final straw.

She’s now urging other guide dog owners to report similar incidents to help stamp out the problem. “I had a really important medical appointment that I needed to get to”, she said. “I just wanted to cry, I was drenched, I was frustrated, I felt powerless.

“The anger really kicked in later when I rang the firm and was basically fobbed off. That’s when I thought this time I’m going to do something about it, because it’s happened to me so many times. It’s wearing, it’s discrimination. “It’s a really important issue that is not being taken seriously by taxi firms. The majority of guide dog users have experienced this. There is a major problem with taxis and guide dogs.

“I want to get it out there because I really want to encourage other guide dog users to report it and see it through. “Take video, take pictures, screengrab your booking confirmations and report it.”

Last week the Rossendale council registered driver had his a cab licence revoked following a hearing. The driver, whose name has not been made public, has 21 days to appeal the decision.

Coun Steve Hughes, chair of Rossendale council’s licensing committee said: “We can confirm the licence of the driver in question has been revoked subject to appeal.”

Scotts Cars, based in Sale town centre, were contacted for a comment. It is thought the driver no longer works for the firm. It is illegal for taxi drivers to refuse to pick up guide dogs, unless the driver has a medical exemption certificate. But earlier this month research published by the charity Guide Dogs found the number of incidents has more than doubled in the last three years, from 66 refusals in 2013 to 146 in 2016.

James White, senior campaigns manager at Guide Dogs, said: “This discrimination is not only illegal, but it’s also a huge blow to people’s confidence and feelings of acceptance in society. Taxi and minicab drivers need to understand and abide by the law and welcome guide dogs and other assistance dogs into their vehicles.”

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17/12/2017

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Undercover sting catches 15 illegal taxi drivers in the city in just ONE hour

A sting operation in the city centre saw 15 illegal taxi drivers caught in the space of just one hour. Nottingham's licensing boss says it is "a game of cat and mouse" to catch them in the act. Richard Antcliff, chief for licensing at Nottingham City Council, says a 'cohort' of around 200 drivers use social media messenger service Whatsapp to keep the council off their tail. If an illegal driver spots a council or police officer then a message is pinged out to avoid that area so they aren't caught and prosecuted.

On Friday evening in Nottingham city centre, the Post went undercover with licensing boss Mr Antcliff to evaluate the scale of the problem. In just over one hour, 15 drivers were caught picking up customers illegally. One left his vehicle outside a bus stop to issue a tirade of abuse, and another sped off before his details could be taken. The 15 caught are now going through the system but face possible penalties including a fine or losing their badge.

The council’s licensing team are targeting drivers who obtain private hire licences from other councils and then 'tout' for business - also known as ‘plying for hire’ - on the streets of Nottingham. The majority of the 15 caught on Friday evening had their licences issued in Gedling. Private hire drivers from Gedling can drop off in the city, but the problems arise when they then try to pick up passengers.

Under legislation, private hire vehicles may only pick up passengers when pre-booked, rather than from a rank or being hailed down like a city hackney cab. However, Mr Antcliffe says around 200 taxi drivers are regularly breaking the law. Other offences committed by illegal drivers include not setting the meter, charging high prices, and leaving the passenger uninsured if an accident was to occur while in the vehicle.

Mr Antcliff says that illegal taxi drivers are putting the public at risk – with a small minority using their cover to commit serious crimes. He said in the last six months the city has got "out of control" and more enforcement work is needed to ensure that illegal taxis are driven out of Nottingham. The council runs one operation a month, but has a team of two on the streets each night.

Around 40 drivers have been caught so far this year and prosecuted - but Mr Antcliff says this is just the "tip of the iceberg" if they had more resources. He says that in the last two years, eight taxi drivers plying for hire have committed serious offences including rape, sexual touching, conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs, grievous bodily harm and indecent exposure. They have all lost their taxi badges.

He told the Post: "It is all money-related, and on occasion more sinister. It is cash in hand, the operator is not taking a percentage and there is no meter. "The criminal cases we have seen are just the people who have come forward, but there will be other victims who have been ripped off on the meter, been a victim of sexual innuendo or experienced more sinister acts from drivers. That is why it is important that customers use pre-booked cabs or a green hackney taxi.

"We have really started to clamp down in the last six months, for a number of reasons. The city has got out of control in regards to taxis, we have seen some nasty offences committed. "It is unfair for legitimate drivers to have their work stolen under their noses by those who are illegally flying round the city. We are also concerned about public safety. If you are a single female, use a hackney or pre-book a private hire. "If you just jump into any cab there is no record of that journey and you risk the chance of becoming a victim because you just don’t know if it is legitimate."

Mr Antcliff says illegal drivers are using social messenger site Whatsapp on their mobile phones to avoid detection. He said: "Eighty-five percent of drivers are legitimate and doing pre-booked jobs but there is a cohort – 200 on one given night. "They are all individually out for themselves but they know each other and they help each other out. It is a hustle and their way of communicating is through Whatsapp.

"They say 'police and council are out' or they will say 'we have seen the taxi CPOs (community protection officers) out on Milton Street', and they go to the other side of the city. "It is a game of cat and mouse but we are getting smarter. We are using the eye in the sky – we are using the CCTV cameras across the city."

Sean Cochrane is one of the community protection officers whose job is to stop illegal taxi drivers. He said: "People want to get home but they do not realise the consequences. We are seeing in excess of a hundred. We won't catch everyone but we will deter it. We are concerned about safety." During Friday's operation, drivers were asked why they flouted the law, but often denied any knowledge of wrongdoing. Despite one driver accepting a £20 offer to Kimberley, once rumbled he told the Post he would never have taken us and had only stopped to buy chips.

Councillor Toby Neal, the portfolio holder for community and customer service, has stressed the importance of keeping people safe. He said: "It is coming up to one of the most busy times f the year and everyone wants to go out and have fun which is great, but our main concern is keeping people safe and if they are getting into unregulated taxi's then they are putting themselves at risk.

"Private hire taxis by law should be pre-booked and if you get into one with out pre-booking you are at risk. We can't trace them, you don't know who they are and you won't be covered by insurance."

Sam Rycroft, 30, of Bulwell, was one customer who was about to take an illegal taxi. on Friday night. He said: "I have had a couple of taxi drivers ask for £20 deposit or my mobile phone as deposit. It is bad for illegal taxis in the city. All I want to do is get home safe after a night out."

Amy Upson, 24, of Essex, who was about to get into an illegal taxi, told the Post: "I went up to him and said it would be £10 to the Premier Inn. I feel really bad. The fact he stopped in the middle of the street indicated to me he was legitimate."

Rachel Hustwayte, 38, of Wollaton, was queuing at the hackney taxi rank, which was manned by marshalls. She said: "We are queuing for a hackney in the hope we get a safe and legitimate ride home. You hope they will charge the correct fare rather than make one up."

17/12/2017

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Six people have been killed in a "horrific" crash in Birmingham.

Three vehicles were involved in the accident on Belgrave Middleway, near Edgbaston, at about 01:00 GMT.

Three men in one car died at the scene and a fourth is critically injured in hospital. The driver of a taxi and his two passengers were also killed.

West Midlands Police described the scene as "very difficult and upsetting" and said officers were investigating how the crash happened.

The road has been closed and police have appealed for witnesses.

The first car in the crash had suffered extensive damage but, "astonishingly", the man and the woman inside managed to get out with relatively minor injuries, an ambulance service spokesman said.

"The second vehicle, a black cab, was on its side. Sadly, there was nothing that could be done to save the driver and he was confirmed dead at the scene."

The female passenger was also confirmed dead at the scene, while her male companion was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he died.

There were four men in the third car, and all had been thrown from the vehicle, the ambulance spokesman said.

"Tragically, three of them were confirmed dead at the scene."

The fourth was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and is in a critical condition.

Three other cars were caught up in the crash and suffered minor damage trying to avoid it.

Michelle Brotherton, from the ambulance service, said her staff had dealt with 13 patients in total.

As well as those who died and the man in a critical condition, four people were taken to Heartlands Hospital where their condition is believed to be non-life threatening.

A further two patients were "discharged on scene".

Road gritted

Supt Sean Phillips said the police officer in charge of the investigation had described it as a "very harrowing scene".

He said it was "too early" to speculate on the cause of the accident.

"It will take some time to unpick and just understand exactly what's happened. It would be unfair for me to speculate at this time," he said.

He confirmed the road had been gritted at 17:00 GMT the previous evening.

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17/12/2017

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Taxi driver explains why some cabbies are "cherry picking" and overcharging in Liverpool

A Liverpool cabbie has given his view on why issues of “cherry picking” and over-charging are damaging the city industry. This weekend the ECHO reported on more claims of Liverpool fans being either ignored by taxi drivers or quoted huge fares after matches at Anfield. One city cabbie has got in touch to offer his explanation for the practices he says are giving the industry a bad name.

The 52-year-old driver, who asked not to be named, has been running his own cab in the city for three years and said that like the majority of drivers he is an honest and hard-working member of the trade. He said he believes that some drivers are carrying out illegal behaviours because changes to government legislation has allowed large numbers of private hire cars to work in the city and take up custom. But he said that is no excuse for ripping people off.

The driver told the ECHO: “Its a massive issue in the city and it’s embarrassing. “I put this down to the apathy of some taxi drivers in Liverpool. “A lot of these guys are middle aged men who used to earn a lot more money years ago than they do now.” He said the government’s Deregulation Act, which allows private hire vehicles to operate across the whole country, has potentially lowered cabbies’ earnings by up to 25%.

He added: “These guys are either leaving the industry or they are starting to over-charging and cherry picking. “Its totally illegal but they have many more problems than they used to have - with other taxis and private hires coming in to the city all the time. “But under no circumstances can you condone any of the things they are doing.”

Responding to claims that some drivers are quoting Liverpool fans as much as £40 to get from Anfield to the city centre , the driver agreed that such things do take place and are out of order. He said: “I took someone from Anfield to Lime Street the other day and they paid £5.50 - when we do it properly we are cheaper than private hires.”

Looking to the future, he added: “Hopefully, once we are able to get rid of all this mess and end the cherry picking and overcharging then the public will be able to make an informed choice.

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14/12/2017

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york Council chiefs refuse to renew Uber's licence in York

Council chiefs have refused to renew the taxi-hailing company Uber's licence to operate in York. Members of York Council's Gambling, Licensing and Regulatory Committee tonight debated for more than two hours over Uber Britannia Limited's application. The company's current 12-month licence is due to expire on Christmas Eve.

Councillors concluded that the taxi-hailing firm was not a fit and proper person - a required condition to refuse an application of its kind. A spokesperson for York Council said: “The application by Uber Britannia Ltd to renew its private hire operator’s licence in York has been considered by City of York Council’s Gambling, Licensing and Regulatory Committee tonight.

“Applying the legislation, the committee has decided to refuse the application having concerns about a data breach currently under investigation and the number of complaints received."

Speaking after the meeting Neil McGonigle, general manager for Uber in York, said the company would now review the details of the decision. He said: “This is a disappointing vote for the riders and drivers who use our app in the city. "More choice and competition is a good thing for both consumers and licensed drivers in the area. "Passengers tell us they love being able to track their car on a live map, pay without cash and get a receipt with their fare and the route taken.

"Licensed drivers partner with us because with Uber they can choose if, when and where they drive. We will review the details of the decision once we receive the formal notice from the council.”

It comes after Transport for London refused to renew Uber’s licence on the grounds of “public safety and security implications” in September. The firm's appeal against that decision in London will be heard by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in Spring next year. Uber Britannia Limited can lodge an appeal with the Magistrates' Court over the latest decision by York Council.

Coun Sonja Crisp tabled a motion to refuse the application on the basis of the data breach that affected the 57 million customers and drivers in 2016. The second reason for refusal related to complaints made against the firm in York. The decision is the latest blow to hit the taxi-hailing company, after Uber had its licence suspended in Sheffield this week. The move came after the firm failed to respond to requests for information about its management.

Since December 2016, 296 complaints were made relating to hackney carriage and private hire vehicles or drivers in York up to November 22. York Council said 155 of these complaints related to Uber vehicles or drivers. But only four related to an Uber vehicle or driver licensed by the council - and 129 were made against those licensed by other local authorities, leading to councillors raising questions about the number of Uber drivers coming from outside York to work in the city.

Coun Dave Taylor, a member of the committee, said during the meeting: "This city needs to have control of its taxi services and it needs to have a level playing field and I don't know if that means then national legislation aught to be tidied up. "But I don't think that we can license a company which directs drivers to go around the houses, pumping up fair for customers, that tries to claim it has no liability for any claims, demands or losses, which claims to have a local office but never seems to staff it and the number of complaints against them is so high. "I think those are the grounds on which we can refuse this licence."

Neil McGonigle, Uber Head of Cities, North of England, spoke in support of Uber at the meeting. He revealed that some 28,000 have used the company's app in York in the last three months. Mr McGonigle said: "From our experience the passenger like the ability to press a button to request a car, take a trip without having to use cash at all and from a safety point of view, being able to track every element of that journey real-time.

"Whether that's themselves, family members, friends or whatever through the app." He said people from 73 different countries are now using the app in York, as Uber has recently taken on more international visitors in York.

The meeting was told licenses for Uber to operate had been refused in Reading, North Tyneside and Cardiff. Saf Din, chairman of York Hackney Carriage Association said he does not object to competition, but that Uber was not a "fair player" in the public transport game. Ahead of the decision, Mr Din told the meeting: "I urge you to be the most active members by refusing the application and offer no licence until you are fully satisfied." He also handed over a petition regarding safeguarding of passengers, objecting to Uber's licensing renewal.

Speaking during the debate tonight, Coun Suzie Mercer said: "I was still undecided having read the papers and I'm still undecided. "Everyone is just trying to do a job, you've got good apples and bad apples in all trades. "Uber is used all over the world by millions of people. In York it's mainly the young people who use it and I think maybe as well it's probably a young thing. "Out of town drivers wouldn't come if there wasn't any work and we must remember that if the public want it, then who are we to deny it?"


13/12/2017

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Uber taxi quote in snowy Birmingham 'outrageous

A hospital anaesthetist has slammed a taxi firm that quoted her up to £149 for a 10-mile trip to work in the snow. Dr Daman Mullhi told the Birmingham Mail she tried Uber's taxi app when she was unable to get a car off the drive in Harborne to go to Solihull.

Dr Mullhi said on Twitter the quote of £111 to £149 was "outrageous and unethical" and she chose to go with a local firm who charged £30. Uber said the price had been an "automatic" response to over demand.

Dr Mullhi was among many people hailing a taxi in Birmingham, as the city was among many areas hit by heavy snowfall on Sunday, causing disruption to roads and public transport.

An Uber spokeswoman said the app used "dynamic pricing" which meant fares automatically increased when the demand for cars in a specific area was greater than the cars available. "Bad weather meant there were many people looking to book a car but fewer cars on the road, which caused prices to automatically rise," she said.

She added the higher fare encouraged more Uber drivers to come into the area so more cars were available. "Users always see a fare estimate in advance so they have the choice to book a car, share the trip with others or wait until fares decrease," she said.

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13/12/2017

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Fare cop as boozy taxi driver caught drink-driving while carrying passenger

A taxi driver has pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol in the Paisley area. Thomas Montgomery, 56, was stopped by traffic cops after going through a red light on Abercorn Street around 5pm yesterday.

When breathalysed he was found to be almost two-and-a-half times the drink-driving limit. Montgomery had a passenger in his car at the time of the incident. The taxi driver was arrested and detained in police custody in connection with alleged road traffic offences.

He admitted the offences at Paisley Sheriff Court today and was disqualified from driving for 18 months and fined £400.

Sergeant Mark Miller from the Divisional Road Policing Unit based at Greenock said: “The message could not be clearer – never drink and drive, and if you are caught doing so there are serious consequences.

“Thomas Montgomery put the safety of himself, his passenger and other road users at risk and getting behind the wheel whilst under the influence of alcohol completely unacceptable.

“Our festive road safety campaign is well underway with officers specifically targeting drink and drug driving.”

13/12/2017

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In November Liverpool City Council ordered nine cars off the road immediately and seven drivers were prosecuted in court.

The most serious of these cases saw a driver fined close to £1,100 for driving without insurance and illegally plying for hire.

Council officials also handed 266 fixed penalty notices to the drivers of private cars who were parked illegally on taxi stands - taking up space reserved for hackneys.

Operations in November by council officers and Merseyside Police identified drivers from Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley and Wirral who were committing a range of offences.

A total of 73 defect notices were issued to hackney and private hire drivers from Liverpool, while a further nine were ordered off the road immediately. Another 17 defect or suspension notices were issued to drivers from other authorities.

A further 37 drivers got written cautions for offences including cherry picking, tyre offences, failing to display their badge, parking a private hire on a hackney taxi stand and not having their plates firmly fixed on.

Of the seven prosecuted drivers, six were private hire drivers and one was behind the wheel of a hackney.

Councillor Christine Banks, Chair of the Licensing Committee, said: “Our licensing staff are cracking down on those drivers who are flouting the law. We are on the side of those drivers who play by the rules, and are determined to make the playing field as level as it can be.

“There are a very small minority who breach regulations, and we are committed to taking action and in doing so, send a clear message out that it is not acceptable.

“Passengers should always ensure they only use properly licensed taxis or pre-book private hire vehicles, otherwise they are placing themselves in danger.”

The prosecutions are part of a series of measures being undertaken by the council and police to crack down on taxi and private hire drivers breaking the law.

The council works with police officers who have been through a specialist taxi licensing course to help them spot vehicles that aren’t compliant with the law.

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11/12/2017

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New London taxi goes on sale from £55,599

The iconic black cab is one of the most enduring symbols of London life – and it's now been updated for 2017. The vehicle follows on from the old TX4, and is given the simple moniker of 'TX' – from the newly renamed London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC). The vehicle can be purchased outright for £55,599, or leased for £177 per week.

Not cheap, but LEVC says the new taxi has lots of advantages over the outgoing model. Firstly, there's the new powertrain. TX4 cabs used an ancient, noisy and very thirsty diesel engine, famed for its longevity but not much else. Mated to an automatic gearbox they barely return 30mpg, and transmit vast amounts of vibration into the cabin.

The new TX ditches that for a planet-friendly hybrid powertrain. It mates a hefty battery pack – good for around 70 miles of emission-free motoring – with a 1.5-litre petrol engine, giving the whole outfit a range of around 400 miles. With the average cabbie covering 120 miles every day, LEVC estimates that fuel savings could be as much as £100 per week – easily enough to cover the vehicle's increased leasing cost over the TX4.

Inside the driver's compartment, you could be forgiven for thinking you're in a modern Volvo. LEVC's parent firm Geely also owns Volvo, and the Swedish brand's interior tech features in the TX in a big way. The driver's seat is lifted from the S90 saloon – a big improvement over the driver's seat in the TX4, which cabbies claim is very uncomfortable. There's also a Volvo steering wheel, gear selector, and portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment.

The passenger compartment has been given a significant upgrade too. There's an extra seat, giving a capacity of six passengers, along with separate air-conditioning controls, Wifi and built-in phone chargers. LEVC says the new cab achieved a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating, too.

The taxi will being appearing on London streets soon, with LEVC expecting to see at least 100 on the road before the end of 2017.

11/12/2017

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Why taxi drivers brought traffic to a standstill in Loughborough today

They carried out a go-slow procession earlier today

Around 80 taxis brought Loughborough town centre to a near standstill today with a go-slow procession.

The cabbies honked their horns as they snaked their way through the town centre at around five miles per hour as part of a protest this morning.

They were demonstrating their concern at a process known as ‘cross border sub contraction’ where firms with drivers licensed outside Charnwood send them into the borough to pick up fares.

The Loughborough cabbies say they are losing trade to outside firms because of the practice, with drivers coming in from as far away as Blaby and Wolverhampton.

They also say they have safety concerns about cross border work because different councils have different licensing regimes and safety criteria.

They want the Government to change the law to put an end to the practice.

Taxi drivers’ spokesman Pasquale Corbinzolu said: “We suffer a lot from this because Loughborough is a honey pot because of the student trade.

“There are enough taxis locally to meet the demand but drivers from miles and miles away are still coming in.

“We are not protesting about the borough council.

'We want the law to be changed.'

“We carried out the protest to raise awareness of the issue.”

The demonstrating cabbies had notified the police and the council about the procession beforehand.

They started on the A6 near Hathern at 11am and then slowly processed through the town centre, passing the council offices in Southfield Road, before dispersing after around an hour and a half.

What did the council say?

Chairman of the Licensing Sub-Committee at Charnwood Borough Council Councillor Ken Pacey, said: “We’re aware of the taxi demonstration in response to the issue of cross-border hiring and we’re sympathetic to local hackney carriage drivers about this issue.

“Cross-border hiring has come about as a result of recent changes to national legislation as a result of the Deregulation Act, 2015.

“Before the 2015 Act came into force, if private hire Operators couldn’t fulfil a taxi booking, they could give that booking to another private hire operator licensed by the same authority. Since the Deregulation Act 2015, private hire operators can give the booking to another private hire operator licensed by a different authority.

“This may impact on the business for local drivers. It is also an issue for licensing authorities, such as ourselves, because we are seeing an increasing tendency for private hire vehicle to operate outside the area in which they are licensed.

“Charnwood Borough Council does not any power to inspect a vehicle that is not licensed by us, which means that if we receive a complaint about a private hire vehicle operating in Charnwood that is licensed by another authority, all we can do is send the complaint to the correct authority to deal with.

“Currently local authorities have no power to change this legislation. However, we are aware that the Local Government Association have also raised this as an issue and has called on central government to review this.

“We will have to await further developments to see what happens next.”

09/12/2017

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Uber Sheffield ban: City suspends taxi app's licence after company fails to answer concerns

'We hope this administrative error can be quickly resolved so we can continue serving tens of thousands of riders and drivers,' says company

Sheffield City Council has suspended Uber's licence to operate in the city from 18 December after the company failed to respond to requests for information about its management.

Uber's existing licence is in the name of an employee who is leaving the company.

The ride-hailing app has already submitted a new application to be able to run minicabs in Sheffield, but the company faces not being able to operate in the city over the Christmas period if it is not processed in time.

A Sheffield City spokesperson said: “Uber’s licence was suspended last Friday after the current licence holder failed to respond to requests, made by our licensing team, about the management of Uber.

“It is legally allowed to operate up to 18th December, and if it chooses to appeal this suspension it can continue to operate until the appeal is heard. If it decides against an appeal the suspension will come into force.

“We received a new application, for a licence to operate taxis in Sheffield, from Uber Britannia Limited, on 18 October 2017 which we are currently processing."

An Uber spokesperson said the company informed the council on 5 October it needed to change the name on its licence.

But the council told the app it could not swap the name on the existing document "as most other councils have done", the spokesperson said.

Instead, Uber was told it needed a new licence, which it applied for on 16 October, the spokesperson said.

"While we are in regular contact with the council, we did not receive the correspondence the council refers to as they send the letters to an incorrect address," the spokesperson added.

"We hope this administrative error can be quickly resolved so we can continue serving tens of thousands of riders and drivers in Sheffield.

"If the new application can't be resolved by 18 December we will of course submit an appeal so we can continue to serve people in Sheffield."

UK news in pictures

Uber is still fighting a ban in London after it lost its licence there in September.

Transport for London (TfL) criticised the firm's record on reporting criminal offences and carrying out driver background checks.

TfL decided not to renew Uber's London licence after it deemed the firm "unfit" to run a minicab service.


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09/12/2017

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Carmaker Nissan plans to test self-driving taxis on Japanese roads from March next year.

The company is partnering with Japanese software company DeNA, which operates online services for the gaming, healthcare and automotive industries.

It will adapt a Nissan Leaf electric car, which passengers will summon using an app.

nice big cars then :lol:

Nissan joins a growing band of carmakers trialling self-drive cars, including General Motors and Volvo.

The free trials will be held over a two-week period in March in Yokohama.

The Easy Ride system could be launched in Japan in the early 2020s

"With 'more freedom of mobility' as its concept, Easy Ride is envisioned as a service for anyone who wants to travel freely to their destination of choice in a robo-vehicle," Nissan said in a statement.

"The goal is to allow customers to use a dedicated mobile app to complete the whole process, from setting destinations and summoning vehicles to paying the fare."

During tests, there will be a staff member in the driver's seat to comply with Japanese law.

Customers, who can apply from now until 15 January, can select local destinations and sightseeing routes.

Meanwhile, Japanese robotics maker ZMP is working with a Tokyo taxi operator to develop self-driving taxis for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Elsewhere, Uber is working on its own self-drive service and in November struck a deal with Volvo to buy up to 24,000 cars.

And Waymo, owned by Google parent company Alphabet, is planning to test autonomous cars with no human safety driver.

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09/12/17

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Proposals to increase hackney carriage fares - the taxis which can be flagged down or caught in a taxi rank - has been lodged with Norwich City Council.

The proposal, for the first increase since 2014, would not see the existing four tariff structures (day, evenings, Sundays and nights and Christmas and New Year) changed.

But prices would be pushed up because of a reduction in the distance travelled before charges are made.

For example, at the moment, the day rate (between 6am and 6pm) is charged at £3 for the first 40 yards, then 20p for the next 205 yards. While the initial £3 for 40 yards would not change, the proposal is for 20p for the next 194 yards - 11 yards less than at present.

Under that tariff, a journey of three miles which currently costs £8.20 would go up to £8.60 (not including any waiting time) - an increase of 4.88pc.

The Norwich Station Taxi Association, which lodged the request for increases on behalf of all the city’s hackney carriages, said in their submission they were seeking a “modest” increase.

They highlighted how there had been no request for an increase since 2013 and said: “We propose simple adjustments to the present approved yardages to achieve an increase in the region of 3.6pc for all tariffs,

“No increase is sought for waiting times, which reduces the overall value of the increase package.”

09/12/17

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Fit & Proper

28/7/17

A TAXI driver from Leamington who grabbed a woman between her legs when she got out of his cab following a row about the fare has been warned to expect an immediate prison sentence. Balvinder Singh had denied sexually assaulting the woman after driving her home, claiming ‘it just did not happen’ a jury was told. But the jury at Warwick Crown Court took just two hours to find the 56 year old of Tachbrook Road, guilty by a unanimous verdict.  Adjourning for a pre-sentence report, Judge Barry Berlin warned that a taxi driver convicted of breach of trust by

a sexual offence against a passenger ‘ought to go immediately to custody.’ Prosecutor Tariq Shakoor said that in the early hours of Sunday January 17 last year a woman in her 50s made a complaint to the police that she had been sexually assaulted by a taxi driver. “The defendant’s case is that he was the taxi driver during this incident, but that no sexual assault took place.”

Mr Shakoor said the woman had been out for the night, socialising with friends in Coventry city  centre, and had visited a number of pubs, ‘having a normal Saturday night out.’ At about 2.30 in the morning a friend she was with, but who lived in a different part of the city to her, left to   go home. “She stays on, and eventually she too decides it’s time to go home. She leaves a public house and flags down a black cab close-by. There is no dispute the defendant is the  driver.”

The woman shared the cab with a male friend who was dropped off first before continuing to her home. But when they arrived there was a dispute over the fare, which was higher than she thought it should be, which Singh said was because of waiting time while they dropped off her friend. The woman became abusive, and called the police to complain about being overcharged – but although the operator told her it was a civil matter, the line remained open and recorded the exchange, which ended with her paying Singh £10.

She complained she could not get out, so Singh got out to open the door, and when she got out he then grabbed hold of her. “He put his hand between her legs, over her clothing, in the area of her private parts. She couldn’t believe what he’d done,” said Mr Shakoor. “If you are sure that is what he did, that is a sexual assault. His case is that it just did not happen,” he explained.

He said during the incident the woman heard someone shout out, which caused Singh to let go, and he got back into the taxi and drove off – and she went inside and, ‘quite distraught,’ called the police again. The jury heard a woman who lived in the same street happened to be awake and could hear the argument over the fare, so got out of bed and looked out of the window. “She describes seeing the driver grabbing the female around the area of her waist and holding her in what she described as a bear hug, pulling her towards him. “It appeared as if he was trying to kiss her. She alerts her partner who gets out of bed and shouts out of the window.”

Following the incident, Singh was traced and arrested, but denied the offence, added Mr Shakoor. In court, Singh said he had kept his foot on the brake during the argument over the fare to keep the door locked so the woman could not make off without paying.

But he said it was then she who hugged him, apologising for the argument over the fare, so he had hugged her back. “She said she liked me. I said ‘no, I’m married, and I moved her with two hands, pushing outwards to her shoulders, and then got back into the taxi and drove away.” He denied touching her between the legs, and accused her of making it all up to get him into trouble.

After the jury returned its verdict, at the request of his barrister Jonathan Veasey-Pugh, Judge Berlin agreed to adjourn for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on Singh. But he commented: “He must realise this is a serious matter for which an immediate custodial sentence is highly likely, particularly in view of what is a breach of trust.” Singh was granted bail, but Judge Berlin warned him: “That must not in your mind mean that there is not going to be an immediate custodial sentence. “I take the view that a taxi driver who is convicted of breach of trust by a sexual offence committed against a passenger ought to go immediately to custody.”


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28/7/17

Private Hire driver loses licence for ‘intimidating’ women

A private hire driver has been stripped of his licence for intimidating women.

In one incident he confronted an elderly passenger at her home at night after her daughter had complained about his attitude towards her mother.

The complaint centred on his refusal to help the elderly woman when dropping her off after a journey. He was also accused of requesting a tip from her.

In a separate incident, he used his vehicle to block access to another woman in her own car.

She was trapped for ten minutes and subsequently complained to the firm he worked for, saying she had felt “intimidated” by his behaviour.

All three incidents happened in April this year.

The driver, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had previously been issued with a final written warning by East Riding Council over his conduct towards passengers.

That had been triggered by two complaints in the space of five months about his behaviour.

The first, in December last year, involved claims of “abusive conduct” towards a young female passenger who he followed down a cul-de-sac after dropping her off.

In March, a male passenger alleged the driver had asked him to sell him some drugs although this was subsequently denied.

He was issued with a final written warning on April 7 – the same day as he was alleged to have asked for a tip after refusing to help the elderly passenger who he later confronted at her home.

The decision by the council’s licensing committee to revoke his licence with immediate effect has been revealed in newly published minutes.

The minutes say: “At a meeting with officers on April 28, the appellant failed to see the importance of these complaints and how his actions were not appropriate and how they may have impacted on vulnerable customers and caused them alarm.

“The appellant is not promoting the aims of the licensing policy and his conduct is not that which is expected of a licensed driver, particularly relating to his unacceptable conduct towards a vulnerable adult by visiting her uninvited at her home address.”

The committee was told the man, who had been a licensed driver for over 11 years, was not currently working as a taxi driver having had his licence suspended on April 27.

The minutes reveal some councillors favoured a three-month suspension of his licence but they were out-voted by a majority who supported an immediate revocation.

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25/7/17

Taxi driver accused of ‘sitting outside swimming pool in pants’ loses licence appeal

A Labour councillor was accused of ‘sitting outside a swimming pool in his pants’ as he lost an appeal after being refused of a taxi licence.

Oadby and Wigston Borough Council denied an application made by Gurpal Atwal in late 2016 and this decision was backed by magistrates in Loughborough yesterday.

This was after a committee in January 2017 decided he was “not fit and proper” to undertake the position of a cab driver.

The body rejected the private hire and Hackney carriage licence application despite Mr Atwal passing a DBS check and other relevant driving checks.

Outlining the council’s position, its legal representative Dave Gill said: “In essence there were a number of allegations.

“From 2015 there were a consistent number of complaints. No charges, but alleged offences and contact with police.

“The council’s single sole duty is to protect the public.”

Following his statement the officer from the council who led the committee’s enquiries took to the stand.

Licensing Enforcement Officer for Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, Tracey Aldwinckle, 49, explained the statements she had gathered – from which varying accusations emerged.

While being questioned by Mr Atwal’s defence, she said: “I was told your client is using unlicensed drivers on school runs and then he sat in his pants outside a swimming pool because he believes that’s acceptable.”

As well as this a raft of further alleged misdemeanours were stated to the court – most of which had stemmed from 2015 up until now.

There were also claims of racism and an allegation Mr Atwal “swore at” a man.

However he said that when this was followed up officers chose to take no further action.

Mr Atwal’s defence solicitor Anthony Schiller said there was “no indication” from any member of the travelling public of aggressive or racist behaviour.

He also described how his client has worked for over 20 years as a taxi driver in Leicester.

He stated that the majority of witnesses spoken to by Ms Aldwinckle had connections to Mr Atwal’s former business partner.

Mr Atwal owned a fifty-per-cent stake in Handsome Cars in Leicester and is taking his former business partner to high court in regards to a sum of around £300,000.

Mr Atwal still has a taxi licence in Leicester

Addressing magistrates Mr Schiller said: “We know there are links to people you have not seen today.

“It’s often said a business dispute can be worse than a divorce.

“You have to use the mythical scales of justice to make the decision.”

Mr Atwal also denied the accusations in court – stating they were “all fabricated”.

When questioned in front of magistrates Mr Atwal said: “I am not a racist person. I treat everybody fairly.

“They [the statements] were all fabricated to discredit my character.”

In regards to the business dispute Mr Gill commented that it was believed Mr Atwal had involved “heavies” when things did not go his way.

Mr Atwal did not comment following the hearing.

As well as not being granted a licence Mr Atwal was also charged £1,250 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing Bill Boulter, 70, who chaired the Oadby and Wigston Borough Council licensing panel which made the original decision said he was “very pleased”.

Mr Atwal currently holds a licence allowing him to drive cabs in Leicester until 2018.

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07/7/17

Cabbies ‘would be forced off the road’ as Hull council says they may ban diesel taxis from 2018

Councillor Martin Mancey has said the council may ban giving new taxi licences to diesel drivers

Taxi drivers would be ‘forced off the road’ if the city council stopped issuing licences to those with diesel vehicles, it is claimed.

Councillor Martin Mancey, portfolio holder for strategic transport, has suggested the Guildhall may consider following London, where mayor Sadiq Khan has said no new taxi licence should granted to drivers with diesel vehicles from January 2018.

But Peter Nilsson, chairman of the Hull Hackney Carriage Association, has warned that would undoubtedly result in fewer taxis because of the extra costs drivers would incur.

He said: “Would our fares go up? Probably not. But I do believe people would not taxi driving, and so there would be fewer taxis on the road. Each taxi represents a business.

Cllr Mancey was speaking ahead of the publication of the Government’s air action plan, which is expected later this month.

He said: “In London, the mayor is saying that no new taxi licence will be issued for diesel vehicles from January. As a council, we have to look at all measures and I would not rule that out.

“If we were to go down a similar path, and it’s a big if, it would certainly not be in January 2018. We would want to hear the views of both Hackney carriage and private hire drivers. We would have have a discussion with them. There would be extensive consultation.”

Cllr Mancey accepted the measure would be met with concern among Hull’s cabbies, many of whom claim they are struggling to scratch a living even without any incoming extra costs.

However, he said this needed to be seen in the context of an estimated 29,000 deaths each year caused by emmisions.

Cllr Mancey said: “From the point of view of taxi drivers, I imagine there will be some concerns because petrol vehicles do less miles to the gallon, potentially increasing overall costs. That may put pressure on fares. But we have to look at the bigger picture – public health.”

He added the council is working hard to encourage people to use public transport.

Despite this, Mr Nilsson has predicted a number of problems should Hull follow a similar path to London, and said the association’s lawyers would invariably be involved.

He said: “Trying to get a petrol taxi is very difficult, because they’re a lot dearer to run than diesel taxis.

“Electric cars? I personally have not seen any that are fit for purpose. You can only go 100 miles on a charge. What do you do if a fare wants to go to Manchester Airport? It just can’t work.

“Hybrid vehicles are very expensive, compared to say a diesel taxi.”

According to Mr Nilsson’s reckoning, there are 170 black cabs in Hull. He believes there are in the region of 1,300 private hire vehicles.

He feels the driving factor behind Hull’s congestion, linked to poor air quality, is “poor road layout” as opposed to traffic volume.

“The roads are not coping with the number of vehicles,” he said. “No-one one knows the roads like taxi drivers. We know how the city works.

“Look at Spring Bank West, Cottingham Road and Bricknell Avenue. There used to be two lanes in each direction. Now there’s one. That’s the reason why our roads are becoming clogged. We’re losing roads.”

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